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Singer Valerie June mentors MPS students

Tarik Moody

Students at Lancaster Elementary School got a special opportunity to spend time with singer Valerie June before her Milwaukee concert last week.

The visit was coordinated through the Turnaround Arts program, a White House initiative launched by Michelle Obama last year, using music and art to improve school outcomes in struggling neighborhoods.


June invited the students backstage for a behind-the-scenes tour at Turner Hall Ballroom then performed a mini-set following her soundcheck.

The visit was the Tennessee musician's second interaction with the students at Lancaster, and she plans to work with them on creating an original song while on the road.  She will also donate an instrument from her personal collection to the school -- her first electric guitar.

Check out the video below.


The Turnaround Arts program is active at three other Milwaukee schools, connecting students with the following professional artists:

  • Larisa Martinez, a classical opera singer, at Sherman Multicultural School of the Arts
  • Jacqueline Suskin, writer, performance poet and artist, at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School
  • Johnny Nunez, iconic celebrity photographer, at Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts.
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