Search - List of Books by Val Wilmer
Valerie Sybil Wilmer (born 7 December 1941, Harrogate, England) is a British photographer and writer specialising in jazz and British African-Caribbean culture.
Total Books: 2
She began her career at a very young age, when her mother still had to accompany her to concerts. Her earliest work (a biography of Jesse Fuller) first appeared in Jazz Journal in May 1959. Wilmer has interviewed and photographed hundreds of American and British blues singers, musicians and others, and maintains an archive that contains some of the most noted photographs of people such as Langston Hughes and Memphis Slim.
Over the decades she has been a contributor to many publications, including Melody Maker, Down Beat (she was its UK correspondent, 1966-70) and The Wire. She regularly contributes informative obituaries of musicians to The Guardian.
Her photographs have been exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum (1973) and are held in many photographic collections, including the Arts Council of Great Britain; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris; Fotografiska Museet, Stockholm; Smithsonian Museum, Washington, DC; Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (New York Public Library), New York; National Portrait Gallery collection .
Wilmer is the author of the books Jazz People (Allison & Busby, 1970), The Face of Black Music (Da Capo, 1976), As Serious as Your Life: The Story of the New Jazz (Allison & Busby, 1977) and Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This: My Life in the Jazz World (Women's Press, 1989), an autobiography that details her development as an artist/journalist and her coming out as a lesbian in a largely heterosexist musical milieu. She has also published biographical articles on Black British musicians from the 1940s and 1950s as well as full biographies.
In addition she has written about photography, and compiled and edited the "Evidence" issue of Ten/Eight devoted to the work of African-American photographers. With Maggie Murray, Wilmer founded Format, the first all-women photographers’ agency in Britain, in 1983.
Her essays and obituaries are notable for their ability to subtly reveal the underlying inequities that Black artists face, often using their own words. For example in Jazz News, July 15, 1960 she quotes Memphis Slim: "I also wanted to get my own publishing company, but the record men don't want to hire a guy who's got his own publishing company."
Val Wilmer's brother is the poet and writer Clive Wilmer.