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Fri, 05.24.1935

Valerie Capers, Musician, and Educator born

Valerie Capers

*Valerie Capers was born on this date in 1935.  She is a blind Black musician and educator.

Valerie Capers was born in New York City and has been blind since the age of six, when an illness deprived her of her sight.  She received her early schooling at the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind.  She earned  both her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the Juilliard School of Music.   From 1987 to 1995, she served on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music, and was chair of the Department of Music and Art at Bronx Community College of the City University of New York (CUNY), where she is now professor emeritus.  Three of Dr. Capers' most noted extended compositions are Sing About Love, Christmas cantata produced by George Wein at Carnegie Hall; Sojourner, an operatorio based on the life of Sojourner Truth, performed and staged by the Opera Ebony Company of New York; and Song of the Season.

Capers has appeared with her trio and ensemble at colleges, universities, jazz festivals, clubs and concert halls throughout the country, including a series at Weill Recital Hall and the 2001 Rendez-vous de l'Erdre in Nantes, France.  Her trio's performances at the International Grande Parade du Jazz Festival in The Hague received rave reviews.  The group has also participated in the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Mellon Jazz Festival, and New York's Kool, JVC and Downtown jazz festivals.

As a jazz artist, she is most often heard in New York City at the Knickerbocker in Greenwich Village.  As a classical soloist, she has also performed Mozart's Concerto for Piano & Orchestra, No. 23 at the Pepperdine University Center for the Arts in Malibu, California. Capers’ recordings are:  Portrait of Soul (Atlantic, 1967), Affirmation (KMA Arts, 1982), Come On Home (Columbia/Sony, 1995), Wagner Takes the A Train (Elysium, 1999), and her most recent, Limited Edition (VALCAP Records, 2001).

Oxford University Press published her book of intermediate-level piano pieces, Portraits in Jazz, in 2000.  Dr. Capers' 2007 performances include: a concert at the Salzburg Global Seminar, Salzburg, Austria; the World-Wide Plaza Summer Festival New York City; the opening concert for the Women in Jazz Festival for Jazz at Lincoln Center at Dizzy's Coca-Cola Club New York City; the Gateway Music Festival Rochester New York; the Holiday Festival, the Empire State Building; and a Jazz at Noon Concert, the Empire State Building.   She is also regularly heard in New York City at the Knickerbocker in Greenwich Village and the Lenox Lounge in Harlem.  As a classical soloist, she has also performed Mozart's "Concerto for Piano & Orchestra, No. 23" at the Pepperdine University Center for the Arts in Malibu, California.

Dr. Capers has appeared on numerous radio and television programs with Marian McPartland, Branford Marsalis, Louis Moreau and others. 

She has also performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Ray Brown, Mongo Santamaria, Tito Puente, Slide Hampton, Max Roach, James Moody and Paquito D'Rivera, among others.

Valerie Capers was the first recipient of Essence magazine's "Women of Essence Award for Music."   She remains very active in her life’s work.

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