A Texas man and a California woman
Valor and Lace
When Chris Hamilton sings, his voice slices through the air with muscle and conviction, and his lyrics, pierce your heart. Emily's clear high register and somewhat sultry lower tones is a compliment not only to his music, but as his partner in life. These two, along with Richard Smith on the resonator guitar, and Ian Belmondo on the harmonica make up Valor and Lace, a homegrown joy to listen to.
Hamilton is a retired Marine sniper, and the guys are both veterans. Valor and Lace is paving its way through the local music industry, with a determination and collaboration that has deep roots in love, courage and hope.
But unlike many musicians, Hamilton did not spend his life reaching for fame and glory with music. Music came to him, as a saving grace in his life.
Hamilton lived the country life growing up on a ranch in a little town outside of Waco, Texas. He joined the Marine Corps in 2007. After spending time in Kings Bay, Georgia, he came back to San Diego and worked for two years to enter sniper school. By 2012 he was in the Kajacki District in the east of Helmand Province, Afghanistan as a team leader in support of ongoing combat operations. It was then, that something happened that would shape the rest of his life.
“I shouldn’t be here today, and a lot of other guys shouldn’t be here today either, but we are. That’s the way the cards fell, the way God wanted it I guess,” he said.
In the aftermath of horror, Hamilton admitted to experiencing severe anxiety, depression, and nightmares. After his tour in Afghanistan, he returned home, but he could barely go out in public without being heavily medicated. Treatment after treatment only turned his anxiety into depression.
“That’s a thing with PTSD, you’ll never be this cool again,” he said. “It’s true to an extent in some of the things that you do and deal with, but it is hard to deal with when you think about what you wish you could have done and the guilt that comes with it. But every Marine, every grunt, every infantryman kind of feels like they are Superman in a way, and it is our destiny to protect each other. That’s what we do and why we have been so successful. You are fighting for your country, but really while you are there you are fighting for each other. It’s a bond that will never go away.”
After spending two years going through group and individual therapies, he joined a music therapy program at the Wounded Warrior Battalion. “From that point on, it completely changed my life, my mood and my outlook on everything changed,” he said.
“Dedication… hard work, it’s whatever you do that makes you happy,” he said. Hamilton is a huge advocate for music therapy because the music did more for him than any of the medications did.
Scientifically, music has the power to change your emotions and it’s a proven fact, he said. Music transmits through the same neurotransmitters that everyday emotions do. And they can alter your emotions to whatever kind of music you are listening to, he said. “And that is powerful.”
Then he met Emily Ridings, now his wife, an Alpine woman that ricocheted his personal life and musical career in a new and more focused direction. He found she could sing and he saw no reason for them not to take this journey together. That’s when Valor and Lace was born. “It’s perfect, because everyone in the band is a veteran, and she, she’s the lace,” he said affectionately.
Emily said they write well together and are happy with the original music they are now producing which comes pretty natural and easy.
Together, Chris and Emily are a country man from Texas, and an Alpine woman that make country music a centerpiece of their talents and life, but they don’t allow themselves to be stuck in a certain genre. Their creative writing sometimes leans towards pop, rock, or blues. “Every song we have written has been different,” said Hamilton. “Ultimately, I think that is what it is all about. It’s a growing thing and something we both love to do and we hope to continue to do.”
Valor and Lace has just moved back to Texas and is currently writing and looking to start a new fire here in the Lone Star State. Be sure to keep up with them as things get rolling out this year. Valor and Lace is looking to put out their first EP this year and you don't want to miss it!!
credit: Albert Fulcher, East County Californian