Grammy award winner David Holt is a musician, storyteller, historian, television host and entertainer, dedicated
to performing, preserving and promoting traditional American music and storytelling.
Holt is well known for his television and radio series. Currently he is host of public television's Folkways,
a North Carolina PBS series that takes the viewer through the Southern Mountains visiting traditional craftsmen
and musicians. He served as host of The Nashville Network's Fire On the Mountain, Celebration Express, American Music Shop and PBS' Folkways. He has been a frequent guest on Hee Haw, Nashville Now and The Grand Ole Opry.
David also hosts Riverwalk: Classic Jazz From The Landing for Public Radio International. Riverwalk is
broadcast nationally from San Antonio, Texas, and combines stories of the jazz greats told by Holt with
the traditional jazz music of the Jim Cullum Jazz Band and guests including Lionel Hampton and Benny Carter.
Holt plays ten acoustic instruments and has released numerous recordings of traditional mountain music and
southern folk tales. His most recent music CD, An Evening with Doc Watson and David Holt, presents David Holt in a live concert recording with living legend Doc Watson.
David is recognized as one of the nation's foremost storytellers. His newest recording,
Spiders in the Hairdo: Modern Urban Legends, has just been nominated for a Grammy Award for 1999 in the
Adult Spoken Word Category. In 1996, Stellaluna, a collection of bat stories and amazing bat facts, won
the Grammy Award. Why The Dog Chases The Cat: Great Animal Stories with co-teller Bill Mooney, was
nominated for a 1995 Grammy Award.
A native of Garland, Texas, Holt's family moved to Pacific Palisades, California, while he was in junior
high school. He recalls his early musical and storytelling influences: "I grew up in a family of informal
storytellers, and there was plenty to tell about our wild and wooly Texas forefathers. Storytelling was
just a natural part of family life for me. I never thought about telling stories in public until I began
to collect mountain music and came across interesting and unusual anecdotes from mountain folks. I began
to use these stories in concerts and realized the power storytelling holds."
After graduating from the University of California at Santa Barbara magna cum laude in biology and art, Holt
turned toward the southeastern mountains to pursue his growing interest in traditional music and storytelling.
He moved to western North Carolina and immersed himself in the vital folk culture there. While collecting the
traditional music of the mountains, Holt discovered folktales and true-life stories, which he began integrating
into his concerts. He has been exploring and performing this unique form of entertainment ever since, using
traditional music and stories in all his performances.
In 1975, Holt founded and directed the Appalachian Music Program at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa,
North Carolina. It is the only program of its kind in which students study, collect and learn traditional music and dance.
Since 1981, Holt has pursued a full-time career in entertainment. Today, he brings to the concert stage
the fun and spirit of old-time music and storytelling. An evening with David Holt offers tales, ballads
and tunes told, sung and played on the banjo, slide guitar, squeeze box, guitar, harmonica, bones, spoons
and jaw harp. His audiences are constantly involved, learning to play the paper bag, applauding the vitality
of his clog dancing, listening to the haunting sound of a 122 year old mountain banjo, or being unnerved by a ghost story.
The songs and tales Holt has collected for the past twenty years have become a part of the permanent
collection of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. He was awarded a grant from the National
Endowment for the Arts to learn the unique music from the South's last traditional hammered dulcimer
player, Virgil Craven. Says Holt: "Many of the people I learned from saw wagon trains; now they are
watching space shuttles. They're the last of the pioneer generation. Their music and stories still hold a
great deal of meaning and pleasure for us today."
The U.S. State Department has sponsored Holt's performances in many parts of the world as a musical ambassador, taking the sounds of American folk music to such diverse lands as Nepal, Thailand, South America and Africa.
Holt is a three-time winner of the Frets magazine readers poll for "best old-time banjoist." In addition,
Esquire Magazine selected Holt for its first "Annual Register of Men and Women Who Are Changing America" in 1984. Called the "the best of the new generation," those chosen included such notables as Steven Spielberg, Sally Ride and Meryl Streep. All were selected for personal vision, originality and service to others.