Born Arum Rae Valkonen in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Arum Rae is a singer and songwriter whose eclectic style takes influence from blues, soul, and vocal jazz. Raised partly in Colorado Springs, Savannah, Georgia, and Austin, Texas, she began singing as a kindergartner. With the guidance of a high-school music teacher, she went on to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, only starting to play guitar and write songs during her time there. Briefly using the moniker White Dress, she released her first solo material in 2004. By then, her family had relocated to a farm in Virginia, where she self-recorded her bluesy debut EP, 2005's Arum Rae, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar. She enlisted a band that included electric guitar, pedal steel, upright bass, and drums for her full-length debut, 2006's Too Young to Sing the Blues.
Valkonen moved her base to New York City and spent several years on the road, which included opening spots for the likes of Willie Nelson, B.B. King, Gary Clark, Jr., and the Black Keys. In 2012, a song she co-wrote with the Civil Wars' John Paul White, "If I Didn't know Better," was performed by cast members on the ABC series Nashville. She recorded her own version of the song for an acoustic LP of the same name, issued that October. She then headed to the studio with producer Sanford Livingston for the more indie rock-minded Warranted Queen EP, which saw release in April 2014. Before the end of the year, she followed it with the John Congleton-produced Waving Wild EP. Arum Rae was widely labeled "indie soul" by the arrival of her genre-merging EP Loners, issued by Secret Road Records in mid-2016. It featured an updated version of "If I Didn't know Better." A year later, Relativity Entertainment released the more rustic Sub Rosa, which was accompanied by tour dates in support of Rodriguez. ~ Marcy Donelson