Valerie Gillespie, Adjunct Instructor of Saxophone, played alto saxophone professionally at age 14. Since then, she has added to her repertoire, now playing soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone sax, flute, piccolo, and clarinet. The variety of musical styles is expansive-from classical Florida Orchestra performances to informal outside jazz band presentations to Sunday morning church service participation. Gillespie is an accomplished vocalist, influenced by Diana Krall, Nancy Wilson, Shirley Horn, Carmen McRae, and Diane Shuur.
Gillespie has played with national icons Chick Corea, Bobby McFerrin, Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, Ben Vereen, Joan Rivers, Ray Charles, Jon Faddis, Steve Allen and Anthony Newley. She traveled with the Xavier Cugat Orchestra in the US and Japan. Gillespie performs and records with Chuck Owen and the Jazz SURGE and leads her own jazz group that performs frequently in the Tampa area and tours in the US.
The Valerie Gillespie Ensemble has produced numerous CDs. Their debut CD "Branded" featered several original tunes. The title cut of the second CD, "Once Again," was co-written by Gillespie and Rick Steuart. It features vocal solos, the Central Florida Studio Big Band, and the Central Florida Studio Orchestra, with jazz instrumentals reprising 1940s to present day. "It Takes a Village..." a live recording from April 2005 includes solos by guest, Mr. Tim George on bass. "It Can't be Christmas without You" is the latest release, approaching Christmas music in a straight-ahead jazz style.
Gillespie earned her BFA from Carnegie-Mellon with a major in Classical Saxophone and her MM in Jazz Saxophone from the University of South Florida.