Valerie Anne Jones Francis is a native of New Orleans and a proud product of the New Orleans Public School System. She is a 1979 graduate of McDonogh #35 where she studied under the capable tutelage of Mrs. Patricia Sallier Seals. She holds the B.A., M.M., and D.M.A. in Vocal Music Education/Performance from Dillard University, (Dr. S. Carver Davenport), the University of New Orleans, (Dr. Raquel Cortina) and the University of Oklahoma, (the late Dr. Thomas Devore Carey), respectively. She also attended American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. She was one of the first recipients of the Carol Brice Carey Scholarship.
In 1994, she represented the Gulf Coast Region for the National Council Auditions at the Metropolitan Opera, in New York. Roles to her credit include, Aida, Bess, Serena, Magda, Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, Musetta, Madame Euterpova, Madama Butterfly, Micaela, Carmen and Marschillin with the University of New Orleans Opera Theater, Cimarron Circuit Opera Company, Shreveport Opera and New York Opera Studio. She made her debut with New Orleans Opera as the Strawberry Woman and Soprano I Prayer Soloist, in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess in October 2010 and returned as Inez in Il Trovatore in April 2011. In 2013, she sang the role of Leonie in a premiere concert performance of a newly commissioned opera, entitled, Freedom Ride, by Dan Shore. She has also appeared as guest soloist with the Dallas Symphony, American Institute of Musical Studies, the Louisiana Philharmonic and Jefferson Performing Arts Society Orchestras. With Opera Creole she performed the roles of Piquita (Flamenca) by Charles Lucien Lambert, Treemonisha (Treemonisha) by Scott Joplin and Trolla (Thelma), by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.
Dr. Francis continues to present concerts with Dr. Wilfred Delphin, some of which have included Benefit Concerts for AIDS Relief in Zambia in Carbondale, Illinois and Sundays at Three Afternoon Recitals Series, in Memory of Alpha Brawner Floyd at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library in Memphis, Tennessee, Trinity Artist Series, MOJA, and Piccolo Spoleto Festivals.
Dr. Francis has also represented the United States as one of three judges for the X, XVI, and XVII Concurso Internacional Canto Lirico, an international vocal competition in Trujillo, Peru, where she presented master classes and recitals and served as Presidente de los Jueces in 2012 and 2015. One very proud moment during her time in Trujillo last year was that her 17-year-old daughter, Imani Sarai Francis, shared the stage in concert for an international audience. Her international travels in 2015 also included San Jose and Terrialbo, Costa Rica.
Dr. Francis and Dr. Delphin have also presented and premiered original and arranged vocal works by local artists/composers of New Orleans to include the works of Roger Dickerson, Ellis Marsalis and Moses Hogan.
As musical director of “Voices of Purpose”, she premiered “Water Too High Bones too Low” by Hannibal Lokumbe. In 2013, Dr. Francis performed Camille Nickerson’s Creole lullaby, entitled Fais Do Do, orchestrated by Hale Smith with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra; she was honored to serve as guest soloist for the swearing in ceremony of Chief Justice Bernette Johnson, the Lawyers for Civil Rights Under the Law, 50th Anniversary of Higginbotham Corporate Leadership Award Dinner, in 2013 and the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, AL, 2015. She has also shared her talent as guest soloist for Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisholm, Marian Wright Edelman, Jessie Jackson, “Daddy” King, Dick Gregory, and other notable historic figures.
Dr. Francis also sings annually as guest soloist for the National Baptist Convention of America and various church denominations throughout our city and nation. She has presented concerts with New Orleans greats to include E. Dwight Franklin, Rev. Thomas Brown, Timothy Ray, Warren Williams, the late Moses G. Hogan, Albinas Prizgintas and others. Dr. Francis is also a member of One-A-Chord Gospel Ensemble under the direction of Mrs. Betty Winn.
Dr. Francis also serves as Executive Artistic Director of “The Patriotic Project Statewide Youth Chorus”, an interactive, music empowerment program providing youth an opportunity to be exposed to several forms of creative arts. This program also allows children from various backgrounds to come together, transcending race, economic, and cultural differences to form a diverse group of singers and performers who have volunteered their voices and hearts to show the strength and beauty of unity in a patriotic project to remind America that we are ALL Americans!
Dr. Francis currently serves as Assistant Professor of Vocal Music Education at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA, Executive Artistic Director of Opera Programs, Founder and Executive Artistic Director for the Celebration of the Negro Spiritual Concert Series and Nicholls State University Gospel Choir. She currently serves as Minister of Music at her home church, Free Mission Baptist Church, where her father, Reverend Johnny Jones, Jr. serves as pastor.
Dr. Francis continues to perform locally, nationally and internationally.
Her favorite bible verse is: I CAN Do all things through Jesus Christ that strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Her Motto is: DARE TO BE DIFFERENT!
Her Life goal is to live so that the Lord can use me!