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Valerie Capers: Newest inductee into Bronx Walk of Fame

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 5/3/2012, 4:20 p.m.
Valerie Capers: Newest inductee into Bronx Walk of Fame

A world-famous jazz musician will be acknowledged on the grandest scale by her hometown.

The Bronx Tourism Council announced Valerie Capers will be inducted to the Bronx Walk of Fame on May 20. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. called the pianist, composer, singer and educator an inspiration to many.

"It is an absolute honor to have Ms. Valerie Capers on our 'Bronx Walk of Fame' this year," Diaz said in a statement. "Not only has she achieved well-deserved success and recognition for her outstanding accomplishments in the world of jazz, but she has also given back to the community through her work as an educator. She is an inspiration and such a strong individual who did not let losing her sight become a deterrent in achieving success."

Capers was excited by the honor as well.

"The Bronx and its people have served as a magical inspiration for my music over the years," said Capers. "I am both honored and excited to be part of such an elite group of fellow Bronxites being honored. Thank you to the Bronx borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr., for allowing me to always remain a part of the Bronx."

Born in New York City, Capers attended the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind on Pelham Parkway in the Bronx and eventually became the only blind person to receive bachelor's and master's degrees from the Juilliard School of Music. Capers was on the faculty of the Department of Music and Art at CUNY's Bronx Community College for 24 years. She was chairman of the department from 1987 to 1995, and is currently a professor emeritus.

"As a child growing up in the Bronx, I always knew I would remain close to my roots," said Capers. "Today, I still live in the Bronx and am honored to be selected as one of this year's Walk of Fame inductees. This is truly an honor and only strengthens my pride in being from the Bronx."

Capers has been honored with three Doctor of Fine Arts degrees, and she has taught workshops across the world, from Stanford University in California to the Mozarteum Conservatory in Austria. She has won awards and project grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer; the CUNY Research Foundation; the Smithsonian; and Arts International. She has worked with everyone from Marion McPartland to Branford and Wynton Marsalis, Max Roach and Dizzy Gillespie. Capers has also performed with ensembles in clubs, universities, jazz festivals and concert halls, including the famous Carnegie Hall.