World renowned British writer and photographer, Val Wilmer has been following and documenting blues, jazz, African and Caribbean music for over fifty years.
Val’s career as a writer began in 1959 and her earliest work (a biography of Jesse Fuller) first appeared in Jazz Journal of May of that same year. Over the decades, Wilmer has been a contributor to many publications including Melody Maker, Down Beat (she was its UK correspondent from 1966-1970), and The Wire.
Wilmer is the author of several books including Jazz People, The Face of Black Music, As Serious As Your Life, and her memoir Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This, that contain her much sought after black and white photographs. Wilmer has also published biographical articles on black British musicians from the 1940’s and 1950’s as well as full biographies. To date, Wilmer has written approximately 27 biographies for the Oxford Dictionary Of National Biography.
Wilmer’s historic and sizable photo archives contain some of the most recognizable images in the world. Val has interviewed and photographed hundreds of American and British blues musicians and has been exhibited extensively (Victoria and Albert Museum 1973). Her iconic images are held in photographic collections including the Arts Council of Great Britain (Victoria and Albert Museum); Musee d’Art Moderne (Paris); Smithsonian Museum (Washington D.C.); Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (New York Public Library) and the National Portrait Gallery.
Val currently resides in London and regularly contributes informative obituaries of musicians to The Guardian as well as working on five more books! She was recently presented with a Services To Jazz Award in the 2009 Parliamentary Jazz Awards.