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Valerie Carter (born Valerie Gail Zakian Carter; February 5, 1953 – March 4, 2017) was an American singer-songwriter. Carter was perhaps best known as a back-up vocalist who has recorded and performed with a number of artists including Linda Ronstadt, Don Henley, Christopher Cross, Little Feat, Jackson Browne, The Outlaws and, most notably, James Taylor.

Valerie Carter
Birth name Valerie Gail Zakian Carter
Born (1953-02-05)February 5, 1953
Winter Haven, Florida
Died March 4, 2017(2017-03-04) (aged 64)
St. Petersburg, Florida
Genres Rock and roll, soul, R&B. folk rock, country rock
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Years active 1974–2017
Labels ARC, Columbia Records
Associated acts James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Earth, Wind & Fire, James Newton Howard, Don Henley

Carter wrote songs for Judy Collins ("Cook with Honey" from Collins's 1973 album True Stories and Other Dreams), Jackson Browne ("Love Needs a Heart" from his 1977 album Running on Empty), The Brothers Johnson ("Deceiver", the B-side of "You Keep Me Coming Back") and Earth, Wind & Fire ("Turn It into Something Good", from the 1980 album Faces).

She released four solo studio albums, a live album and a compilation album.

In 1978, she performed the singing voice of the character Jan Mouse in the animated Halloween special "The Devil and Daniel Mouse" from Canadian animation studio Nelvana. She was credited under the pseudonym Laurel Runn, likely inspired by living in Laurel Canyon at the time. [1] She sang several songs in the special, including a duet with the songwriter John Sebastian of The Lovin' Spoonful fame. [2] The following year, in 1979, her cover of "O-o-h Child" was featured in Matt Dillon's film debut in Over the Edge. [3]

She recorded Howdy Moon with Howdy Moon in 1974, and stayed with producer Lowell George for her two first albums under ARC/Columbia in 1977 and 1979. In 1996, she returned with The Way It Is, covering songs by Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Van Morrison and Warren Zevon, and a Japanese live album.


Later yearsEdit

In August and October 2009, Carter was arrested in St. Petersburg, Florida for possession of drugs.[4]

She successfully completed all of the court's requirements, and she became a graduate of Judge Dee Anna Farnell's "drug court" program on May 25, 2011.[4] American singer-songwriter James Taylor appeared at her "drug court" graduation ceremonies in a congratulatory effort on behalf of all of the graduates.[4]

Carter died on March 4, 2017 at the age of 64.[5] She is survived by her mother, Dorothy "Dot" Carter, and sister, Jan Carter, who continues the Official Valerie Carter Fan Club as an active Facebook group.

The song "Valerie", written by Will Jennings and performed by Steve Winwood, was reportedly about her, as was Jackson Browne's song "That Girl Could Sing".


As member of the group Howdy MoonEdit

Studio albumsEdit

  • Just a Stone's Throw Away (single "O-o-h Child") — 1977
  • Wild Child — 1978
  • The Way It Is — 1996 (reissued in 2006 with different track list)
  • Find a River — 1998 (5 track EP)

Live albumsEdit

  • Midnight Over Honey River — 2003 (2xCD)


  • Vanilla Grits — 2001

Backing vocal credits (select)Edit

Song-writing credits (select)Edit


External linksEdit