Facebook Tracking Pixel
Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Mobile Logo
David Holt
Photo by Tim Barnwell

David Holt

Folk musician and storyteller Fairview, NC (Buncombe County)

David Holt is a four-time Grammy Award winner who has toured full-time as a folk musician and entertainer since 1981. He is among the most recognizable ambassadors of traditional Southern music and storytelling. Texas-born, Holt moved to the North Carolina mountains in 1968 after finishing college, and began to learn traditional music and stories from such revered Carolinians as Dellie Norton, Ray Hicks, Etta Baker, and Doc Watson.

Holt’s career has given him the opportunity to perform and educate the public about folk traditions, both at home in North Carolina and around the world. In 1975 he founded Warren Wilson College’s Appalachian Music Program, which teaches students to document and play the region’s folk music, and he was its director until 1981. Since 1980 he has been the host of Folkways, a PBS production highlighting the traditional arts of the Southern mountains. Holt has reached international audiences as a State Department-sponsored touring musician, traveling to India, Nepal, Thailand, and countries in South America and Africa. He has also been seen by worldwide audiences as a musician in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Of Holt’s many recordings, Legacy, a three-disc duo with Doc Watson, won a Grammy Award, and Grandfather’s Greatest Hits (1992), was nominated for a Grammy. His 1997 storytelling album, Stellaluna: Bat Stories and Amazing Facts, won a Grammy, and Why the Dog Chases the Cat: Great Animal Stories (1992) was also nominated. His recordings have won many other awards, including Indies, the American Library Association’s recognition for Notable Recordings, and Parents Magazine’s first Parents Prize for Best in Children’s Entertainment.

Holt is the co-author of five books-four collections of stories, and one how-to guide for storytellers-and has made a three-volume series of banjo instruction videos. In addition to hosting Folkways, Holt has made many other TV appearances. He has hosted The Nashville Network’s (TNN) series Fire on the Mountain, Celebration Express, and American Music Shop. He has made more than fifty appearances on Hee-Haw, and has made numerous other guest appearances on TNN and UNC-TV programs.


David Holt currently performs solo, as a duo with Josh Goforth, with his band David Holt and The Lightning Bolts, and with a new group Deep River Rising with Bryan Sutton and T. Michael Coleman.