A biography, a discography and an InterviewBIOGRAPHY:
A native of Chicago, Holly grew up on the West Coast of Florida, where she earned a degree in theatre and fine arts from The University of South Florida. While at university, Holly honed her writing skills, and continues to write for newspapers and magazines. In 1967 a tour for the United Services Organization (USO) took her college theatre troop’s production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum to Greenland, Iceland, Labrador and Newfoundland. “Rest and recuperation” came in a visit to England. Holly fell in love with the place and, following graduation, lived in England for six years.
There, she toured folk clubs singing with her friend, jazz guitarist Diz Disley, and later married legendary guitarist Davey Graham. With Davey, she toured and recorded two albums. During this time, she began using the guitar to compose songs and currently has released five albums of original music.
Returning to Florida in 1974, Holly earned her Actors’ Equity card in dinner theatre. Lead by a love of radio, Holly created and directed A Tale in Your Ear, forming an acting company that dramatized classic international folktales on the air weekly in the Sarasota area for over two years.
Holly and her daughter moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1980, settling into a waterfront cabin in La Conner, Washington for many years. There, among writers, poets, painters, fellow performers, avid gardeners, Native Americans and peace activists, they were part of a socially conscious, dazzling and talented community. The late painter and poet laureate Robert Sund named Holly one of the “Ish River Poets” for her musical lyricism. Holly directed children’s theatre in Skagit Valley for five years, writing and producing original summer musicals.
Now in Olympia, Holly continues her work and joyful participation in the arts, education, and peace activism along with other committed community members.
1970: Holly Kaleidoscope (Decca SKL 5056) with Davey Graham
1970: Godington Boundary (President PTLS 1039) with Davey Graham
1982: Earth Anthem (Nuages Records - re-released 2007)
1988: The Bellybutton Club (Nuages Records - re-released 2008 with additional colouring book)
2000: True Stories and Cautionary Tales (Nuages Records)
2002: Love Will Lead Us (Nuages Records)
2004: Outsource This! (Nuages Records)
AN EMAIL Q&A SESSION WITH HOLLY GWINN GRAHAM
Q:HOW DID YOU GET TO BE LIVING IN SANDWICH IN THE EARLY SEVENTIES AND HOW DID THE FOLK IN SANDWICH CONCERT COME ABOUT?
I have the album of Folk in Sandwich, which is sweet and very dated looking. Recently came across a letter Ron Milnor wrote to me about Davey not long after I left him. It was sad to read, and I was surprised to find it because I forgot Ron had written. Davey wasn't doing well, and was waiting for me to come home.
Davey and I moved to Sandwich on New Year's Eve of 1972-73. We had tried to get him a visa to come to the US but couldn't, so I went back to England from the states, and he had found us a home on Bowling Street in Sandwich, a converted stable called "Wee Cottage". Ron commissioned a painting of that little place once, but I don't know who has it. We lived there a year, and it was a pleasant, peaceful time. We had great neighbors and friends, and Davey toured from there while I worked in the community theatre and then helped the local vicar run a folk club in a redundant medieval church called St. Mary's. It had no power, so we lit the place with big vats filled with sand into which we placed many candles. It was always a full house, and very romantic to experience, with the soft lighting and great reverberating sound.
Q: WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER OF THE CONCERT AND YOUR FELLOW ARTISTS?
Ron came up with the concert idea to sell the album, I think. Or maybe it was the other way around. The lineup was made of the same folks on the album, and we had a big crowd. I loved it. Davey had fun, too. For once, he wasn't on the bill as I recall. I liked all the other performers, all of whom were under Ron's professional management wing.
Q: WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THE RECORDING OF THE ALBUM AT PAUL STEENHUIS'S STUDIO IN BROADSTAIRS?
Recording at Paul's was fun and easy. He had a very nice home, in which was the studio, so recording was no hassle. We backed each other up, took our time, and did a good job. My one regret is that I did not insist upon redoing one of my songs in which I mispronounced a word...it's "Three Ravens" and I sang..."his hauwks they fly so easily..." and it should have been 'hawks"! I always hear it and say to myself, "Self, that was silly." I enjoyed singing with the great vocal backup of the other artists. Paul's recording was professional and we got the job done in good time, only one day, with food and fun thrown in. It was a lovely setting, I recall.
Biography © Holly Gwinn-Graham, used with permission
Interview © 2009 eronrecords.co.uk