Valerie June partners with Newport Festivals Foundation to donate instruments and books to music programs in Tennessee and Mississippi

Grammy-nominated musician from Tennessee Valerie John has partnered with the 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, Valérie and illustrator Marcela Avelar will travel to different organizations to read her new children’s book Someone to Love: The Story of Sweet Little Baby Banjolele by Valerie John. At each stop, you’ll donate copies of the book to local music programs. In addition, the Newport Festivals Foundation and Gibson will donate ukuleles to each concert program. Deering’s banjoles will be donated to the National Museum of African American Music and the Grammy Museum.

In total, over $5,000 in books and instruments including two Deering Banjoleles, 25 guitars, and more than 30 books will be donated.

Valerie John said, “Music is a universal language. I am delighted to partner with the Newport Festivals Foundation in these donations because by sharing music education with students, we cultivate synergy and ignite the creativity of young minds. Game tools increase your neural network usage. Music enriches mental and emotional health when many children need more mental support. Education in music also enhances mathematical skills and improves memory and language abilities. Together, these are seeds for the minds of young dreamers to begin building a more harmonious world.”

Event information:

Sunday January 29th – The Blue Room @ Third Man Records – Nashville, TN

Third Man Box presents a kids’ event featuring Grammy-nominated musician Valerie John! Valerie and illustrator Mars Avelar will celebrate their children’s book Someone to Love: The Story of Sweet Little Baby Banjolele by Valerie John. The event will feature music, sing-along songs and activities all planned for kids and led by Valerie and Mars! Doors 1 p.m. Activities start at 2 pm. Admission is $5. Free for children 12 and under. The books will be available for purchase. Book signing after presentation. Advanced ticket link here.

Monday, January 30 – Stax Museum of American Soul Music – Memphis, Tennessee

Put on your favorite pajamas or comfy clothes and roll on the floor reading a book and a short performance by Valerie June Monday, January 30th, at 6pm at Stacks Museum! All ages are welcome, and entry is free.

Tuesday, January 31st – Grammy Museum Cleveland, MS

To celebrate GRAMMY® Week 2023, the GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi is excited to welcome Valerie John to Sanders Soundstage for a performance and conversation about her career and latest GRAMMY-nominated album Call me a fool In addition to her first children’s book entitled Someone to Love: The Story of Sweet Little Baby Banjolele by Valerie John. Tickets on sale now here! $15 for museum members and $30 for non-members

“The Newport Festivals family is very excited to support Valerie and the amazing work she is doing for local music education programs here,” said Jay Sweet, Executive Director of the Newport Festivals Foundation. “One of the company’s founders was Pete Seeger, who traveled this country with a banjo, singing to young people about compassion and the power of music. We know Pete would be very happy to see Valerie continue that legacy. That’s the essence of folk spirit.”

About the Newport Festivals Foundation:

The Newport Festivals Foundation is a 501(c)(3) for-profit corporation whose mission is to enhance the heritage of folk festivals and jazz festivals and expand their impact through educational initiatives that celebrate innovation while preserving the deep traditions inherent in jazz and folk music. The Foundation’s goal is to provide opportunity and inspiration through exposure and to facilitate the gathering of resources for musicians to celebrate and innovate. Emphasis is placed on creating unique experiences to spark engagement through a variety of initiatives taking place across America, including instrument donations, performances in schools, and support for music education programs with partner organizations.

For more information about Newport Festival’s educational initiatives, please visit

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