Valerie June, a Grammy-nominated musician from Tennessee, has partnered with Newport Festivals Foundation, the organization behind the Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals, Third Man Books, and Gibson, to donate instruments and books to music programs in Tennessee and Mississippi. 

On January 29, 30, and 31, Valerie and illustrator Marcela Avelar will be traveling to different organizations to read her new children’s book Somebody to Love: The Story of Valerie June’s Sweet Little Baby Banjolele. At each stop, she will be donating copies of the book to local music programs. In addition, Newport Festivals Foundation and Gibson will be donating ukuleles to each music program. Deering banjoleles will be donated to the National Museum of African American Music and the Grammy Museum. 

In total, over $5,000 worth of books and instruments will be donated including two Deering Banjoleles, 25 ukuleles, and over 30 books. 

Said Valerie June, “music is a universal language. I’m thrilled to partner with Newport Festivals Foundation in these donations because by sharing music education with students, we cultivate togetherness and spark the creativity of young minds. Playing instruments increases the use of your neural network. Music enriches mental and emotional well-being when many children require more mental support. An education in music also enhances mathematical skills and improves memory and language capabilities. Together, these are the seeds for the minds of young dreamers to begin building a more harmonious world”.   

Events Info: 

Sunday, Jan. 29 – The Blue Room @ Third Man Records – Nashville, TN

Third Man Books presents an event for the kids featuring Grammy-nominated musician Valerie June! Valerie and illustrator Marce Avelar will be celebrating their children’s book Somebody to Love: The Story of Valerie June’s Sweet Little Baby Banjolele. The event will feature music, singalongs, and activities all planned for the kiddos and lead by Valerie and Marce! Doors 1pm. Activities begin at 2pm. Admission $5. Free for kids 12 and under. Books will be available for purchase. Book signing after the performance. Link for advanced tickets HERE

Monday, Jan. 30th – Stax Museum of American Soul Music – Memphis, TN 

Wear your favorite pajamas or comfy clothes and curl up on the floor for a book reading and short performance by Valerie June Monday, Jan 30th, at 6 pm at the Stax Museum! All ages welcome, and admission is FREE.

Tuesday, Jan.31st – Grammy Museum Cleveland, MS

To celebrate GRAMMY® Week 2023, GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi is thrilled to welcome Valerie June to the Sanders Soundstage for a performance and conversation about her career and latest GRAMMY nominated album titled Call Me A Fool as well as her first children’s book titled Somebody To Love: The Story of Valerie June’s Sweet Little Baby Banjolele. Tickets are now on sale HERE! $15 for Museum Members and $30 for Non-Members

“The Newport Festivals Family is so excited to be supporting Valerie and the amazing work she does for the local music education programs down here,” said Newport Festivals Foundation Executive Director, Jay Sweet. “One of our Founders was Pete Seeger, who traveled this country with a banjo in hand, singing to young people about compassion and the power of music. We know Pete would be beyond thrilled to see Valerie continuing that legacy. This is what the Folk Spirit is all about”. 

About Newport Festivals Foundation:

Newport Festivals Foundation is a 501(c)(3) profit organization and its mission is to foster the legacy and expand the impact of its Folk and Jazz Festivals through educational initiatives that celebrate innovation while preserving the deep traditions inherent in Jazz and Folk music. The Foundation’s goal is to offer opportunity, inspire through exposure and facilitate the collection of resources needed for musicians to celebrate and innovate. The focus on creating unique experiences to spark engagement is accomplished through a variety of initiatives taking place all over America, including instrument donations, performances at schools and support for music education programs with partnering organizations. 

For more information on the education initiatives of Newport Festival, please visit www.newportfestivals.org.


Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.  Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in...