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valerie capers

composer, Pianist, and educator


Valerie Capers was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She received her schooling at the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind and then was admitted to the Juilliard School of Music. Dr. Capers is the first and only blind student to have earned both Bachelors and Masters degrees from that institution. After graduating from Juilliard, she served on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music where she instituted their first jazz classes and taught for seven years. She later became a faculty member of the music department at Bronx Community College (CUNY). Her tenure there culminated in her appointment as the Chairperson of the college’s Department of Music and Art.


Dr. Capers retired from academia in the mid-nineties and is now Professor Emerita. Lauded as one of the nation’s preeminent jazz educators by The New York Times, Dr. Capers has returned to performing, conducting workshops, and teaching master classes. She holds four honorary doctorates in music. 

Dr. Capers is an accomplished jazz pianist, vocalist, composer, and arranger. Her compositions have been commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution, the Fund for Artists International, the CUNY Research Foundation, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and Meet the Composer. Her Portraits in Jazz, published by Oxford University Press, has garnered praise nationally and internationally.

She has been a guest performer on numerous radio and television programs, including Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz and Brandford Marsalis’ Jazz Set.

Dr. Capers performs with her trio and ensemble at clubs, concert halls, universities, colleges, and jazz festivals at such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Martin Luther King Festival, Les Rendez-vous de l’Erdre, International Grand Parade du Jazz, North Sea Jazz Festival, Du Pont Clifford Brown Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Mellon Jazz Festival, Women in Jazz Festival—Lincoln Center, and the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival at Kennedy Center.


Dr. Capers has performed with such celebrated musicians as Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Ray Brown, Mongo Santamaria, Tito Puente, Max Roach and Paquito D’Rivera just to mention a few. Her albums include Affirmation, Come On Home, Wagner Takes The “A” Train, and Limited Edition. Visit:

Works by Valerie Capers Available from Jaygayle Music: 

Two Songs on texts by Abbey Lincoln for soprano and piano.

Ruby, A Docu-Cycle, for soprano, piano, cello, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, and percussion.

Two songs from The Gift of Song, including Farmchild's Lullaby for tenor or soprano and piano and We Wear the Mask for tenor, piano, bass, and 2 percussion.


Scores not distributed by Jaygayle Music are available from the composer in editions hand-copied by John Henry Robinson.
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