From the stages of Broadway to the soundstages of Hollywood, Valarie Pettiford has charmed audiences with her performances. A Fosse-trained dancer, Pettiford was nominated for her work in the musical revue, Fosse, which paid homage to her mentor. As an actor, she has created characters for which fans still recognize her, such as Big Dee Dee Thorne on the hit sitcom, Half and Half, and Aunt Geneva, whose rehearsal dinner musical number nearly stole Jumping the Broom from co-stars Angela Bassett, LorEtta Devine and Paula Patton. For those who have had the pleasure of hearing Valarie Pettiford sing, whether in a musical or one of her women cabaret shows, it is her smooth, decadent and resplendent voice that they remember.
Pettiford’s second solo album, “Velvet Sky”, is a collection of original lullabies to which she brings a tenderness and wealth of emotion. All of the thirteen tracks on this new album were written especially for her by two legendary writing teams – Ron Abel (music)/Chuck Steffan (lyrics) and Michael Orland (music)/Jamie Wooten (lyrics). The songs range from playful numbers that are meant to inspire play between parents and their children, as well as softer tracks to lull babies (of all ages) to sleep.
“I am very proud of this project. It was a real labor of love,” enthuses Pettiford. “Ron and Chuck were writing together, while Michael and Jamie were writing together – and then they switched partners for a few songs, which was a really fascinating endeavor!
They created the most amazing lullabies for me to sing. I think people- especially parents, single parents, and soon-to-be parents- will really connect with this music, which will help them connect more with their babies.”
When asked about what originally drew her to a lullabies project, Pettiford says, “At the time, my husband, Tony Rader, and I were thinking about having children and thought what a beautiful idea it would be to record an album of lullabies during that period. I also thought my voice was well-suited for lullabies. That’s what was so great about having the songs written just for me. Ron, Chuck, Jamie and Michael all knew my voice very well, and they wrote for my strengths.”
Though she loves each track equally, one song in particular strikes a deep personal chord with her, a chord to which she feels many women can relate. ‘My Miracle’, the final track on this beautifully crafted album, written by Wooten and Orland, “touches the core of any woman who has had difficulty having children,” she explains, “It speaks to the beauty of an impossible dream realized.”
“After all these years,
After all those tears,
I never thought I’d ever feel this way.
To hold you in my arms, to keep you safe from harm,
To whisper in your ear and softly say,
You’re my miracle. My miracle.
How do I describe the way I feel inside?
When I lean down and look into your eyes,
How could I have known,
How fast the years had flown,
And how fortunate I found you in time.
You’re my miracle, my miracle.
You see, miracles have a way of coming true
For everybody else, but not for me.
God was saving something special for my life.
And something special is what you turned out to be.
You’re my miracle, my miracle…
– ‘My Miracle’ from “Velvet Sky”
Pettiford set out to create something that encouraged playtime between parents and their children, to engage both parties. “Velvet Sky” does just that and more. Lullabies are some of the most cherished musical moments because of the intimacy they inspire. That authenticity and joy is captured in perfect harmony with this collection of lullabies, and kids of all ages will love these new musical gems.