When Valerie Delacruz was growing up, her family and friends were certain she would become an artist. Her obvious ability in the visual arts made it seem clear that would be her calling. Well, Valerie has in fact become an artist--a musical artist. 'I love drawing,' says Valerie. 'It's as natural as breathing to me. But so is singing, and nothing gives me the feeling of joy I get when I'm singing.' As a child growing up in the shadow of upstate New York/'s Adirondack Mountains, Valerie would sit on her mother's hope chest inventing her own harmonies to songs she heard on the radio. Her grandfather, a fiddle player, often took her to the local record store to pick out any single she wanted. Valerie's selections ranged from the Four Seasons and the Beatles to, later, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt and Patsy Cline. Valerie was performing her own music as early as age 15, when she opened for Johnny Rivers. As a teenager she played guitar and sang in several acoustic harmony acts, and worked as a solo performer as well. Valerie then put her guitar away for a while and fronted a series of bands. Living in Boston after attending the Art Institute of Boston, Valerie toured the New England club circuit in a top 40 lounge act, then a funk band that had her covering songs by Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan, and then a country-rock band. For many years she sang with a variety of small jazz groups, honing her vocal chops. For a while Valerie/'s music took a back seat as she developed a successful commercial interior design business, got married and raised two children. But music never stopped beckoning. 'I started making regular trips to Nashville to learn more about the craft of songwriting. Singing is the easy part; expressing yourself through great songs that people can relate to is the challenge.' She's come back full circle to her acoustic roots, writing and recording original songs. She studied with million-selling writers Jon Ims (She's In Love With the Boy) and Hugh Prestwood (The song Remembers when), and co-written with Nashville hit-songwriters like Trey Bruce, Jason Blume and Paul Taylor. In 1997 one of her songs, 'You/'re the Happy Ending,' won First Prize in the USA Songwriting Competition, Country Category, out of a field of 700 international entries. Later that year she received the Songwriter of the Year Award from the Northeast CMA. In 1998, Valerie performed in the Lilith Fair Talent Showcase, was the Northeast winner in the TNN Prime Time Country Road to Nashville Talent Series and was awarded Songwriter of the Year and Song of the Year Awards from the Northeast CMA. Her song 'Hey! That's My Kiss' won first prize in the Great American Song Contest (Country). After three independent CD releases, she was signed in 1999 to Nashville's Relentless Records (a division of Madacy Entertainment). Her debut CD, 'They'll Never Know,' featured the radio single "Hey! That's My Kiss" and it's accompanying video on GAC. Her song co-written with Trey Bruce, "Don't Call Me Yours," was featured in the movie My Super Sweet Sixteen, and her version of "Lean on Me" was featured on the Live with Regis and Kelly Show.