Val Mindel is a longtime musician, teacher and workshop leader, known for bringing out the best in singers, whatever their level. Her specialty is the close, buzzy harmony that makes American old-time, bluegrass and country harmony so compelling. In addition to teaching, she performs in various combinations, including with California-based Any Old Time (see Arhoolie’s new anniversary book and CD compilation “They All Played for Us”), with daughter Emily Miller and her husband Jesse Milnes, and with such stalwarts of the old-time music scene as Debra Clifford and Joe Newberry. As well as maintaining a busy workshop schedule across the country and abroad, Val teaches regularly in New York City at Brooklyn’s growing old-time music school, Jalopy. She lives in Marlboro, Vermont.
The first song Emily Miller (Val's daughter) remembers learning was the Louvin Brothers' hit "When I Stop Dreaming," which she sang as a duet with her older brother, Ethan. The Miller household was always full of that brand of early country and old-time music, so matter where the house happened to be (Chicago, Hong Kong, Toronto, New York have all been stops along the way), and it remains Emily's greatest musical love. The Miller Family Band performed frequently on television shows and in shopping malls while living overseas, which gave Emily a taste for the musician's life. Since those early days, she has made an independent name for herself as a performer, teacher and scholar of country and old-time music. She tours regularly with her country band, The Sweetback Sisters, as well as in a duo with her husband, Jesse Milnes. She lives in Valley Bend, West Virginia.