sealPurdue News

January 24, 2003

Award-winning musician-storyteller comes to Long Center

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - David Holt, acclaimed musician and storyteller, will perform at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2, at the Long Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Lafayette.

Admission is $10 for general public, $7 for Purdue students and children K-12. Tickets can be purchased at Purdue box offices or charged by phone at (765) 494-3933 or (800) 914-SHOW. Holt is presented by Purdue Convocations.

Grammy Award-winner Holt is a musician, storyteller, historian, television host and entertainer dedicated to performing and preserving traditional American music and storytelling. Holt plays 10 acoustic instruments and has released several recordings of traditional mountain music and southern folktales.

Holt is well known for his television and radio series. He is host of public television's "Folkways," a North Carolina program that takes the viewer through the Southern Mountains to visit traditional craftsmen and musicians. He served as host of The Nashville Network's "Fire on the Mountain," "Celebration Express" and "American Music Shop." He has been a frequent guest on "Hee Haw," "Nashville Now" and at The Grand Ole Opry. Holt also can be seen as a musician in the popular film "O Brother Where Art Thou."

Holt hosts "Riverwalk: Classic Jazz From The Landing" for Public Radio International. The show, in its 13th year, 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.

"I Got A Bullfrog: Folksongs For The Fun Of It," features American folk songs Holt has collected over the last 20 years and has garnered many awards. "Grandfather's Greatest Hits" received a 1992 Grammy Award nomination for "Best Traditional Folk Recording."

Holt is recognized as one of the nation's foremost storytellers. His newest recording, "Spiders in the Hairdo: Modern Urban Legends," was nominated in 1999 for a Grammy Award 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, Calif., 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-woolly Texas forefathers," Holt says. "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."

As for music, Holt says, "The only homemade music in our house was played by my father on bones and spoons that had been passed down in our family for five generations. In 1968, I sought out Carl Sprague, the first of the recorded singing cowboys. Mr. Sprague taught me to play the harmonica and regaled me with old-time cowboy stories. This experience introduced me to the excitement of learning from the source, the old timers themselves."

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 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, N.C. It is the only program in which students study, collect and learn traditional music and dance.

Since 1981 Holt has pursued a full-time career in entertainment. During his show, Holt offers tales, ballads and tunes told, sung and played on the banjo, slide guitar, guitar, harmonica, bones, spoons and jaw harp. Holt's audiences also are 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 spellbound by a ghost story.

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.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A publication-quality photograph of David Holt is available at .

CONTACT: Larry Sommers, Purdue Convocations, (765) 494-5045,;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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