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The Legendary Val

By any and all accounts, Val Camiletti was larger than life. When she passed away in 2018, many journalists and friends wrote eloquently of the legacy she left behind. Below are several excerpts from a story by journalist Mary Kroeck that appeared in NewCity Music in July of 2018. The full article can be read here.

The Essence of Val…

“Val Camilletti started her music career at Capitol Records in 1962, when the company had a branch in Chicago. She often told the story about what it was like to be there in 1964, receive a 45 of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” at her office and put the needle on the turntable to hear the Fab Four’s harmonies for the first time. When no one in the country knew who these lads from Liverpool were, Val recognized that they were special; soon the world would, too. To Val, The Beatles were her band. She even made the decision to skip going to their concert at Comiskey Park because she said no one would be able to hear them play over the screams of thousands of young women. She was right. Yet Val didn’t just love The Beatles, she loved music, and dedicated her life to helping others love it too—helping you finding just the right record, knowing the song you were looking for just by hearing you sing a few of its lyrics, and giving bands the chance to play on the store’s stage.”

Stories on a Slow Day…

“If you caught her on a slow day at the store, she’d tell you stories; she had enough to fill a library. I had the great pleasure of talking to Val about the late, great Shel Silverstein a few years ago. I was working on my master’s thesis about his work and Val had seen him perform live. To this day, I find it lovely that she didn’t know him for his poetry or his plays; she knew him for his music, an aspect of his illustrious career that not many are familiar with.”

Leading with Compassion…

“Val worked from the heart. She treated others with compassion. She welcomed customers and four-legged friends into her store. Her employees became family. All these characteristics created bonds between her and an unfathomable number of people (and pets). This became evident, in no small way, as former employees and friends gathered at her care facility over the past few days to spend as much time with her as they could. “She’s kind of a big deal,” some would say as nurses looked at the flock of folks gathered in her room and in the hallway, waiting for their chance to see her, hold her hand and be in her presence once again.”

Inspiring a Community…

“Val Camilletti was an inspiration. If you stop in her store, you’ll see what all the fuss is about. Chances are you’ll find more than just a record or two. Chances are you’ll find a community of music lovers supporting one remarkable woman’s dream. Through her passion for music, Val inspired others for nearly half a century.”

-Photo and excerpts by Mary Kroeck for NewCity Music