John Dee Holeman
North Carolina has long been home to outstanding performers of the blues. Beginning in the 1920s, Durham attracted some of the greatest of all bluesmen in the region; they performed for tips at the bustling tobacco markets in town. These musicians include Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Boy Fuller, and harmonica player Sonny Terry. After World War II, the popular tastes in music began to change, and a new generation of blues musicians grew up in the Bull City. Heavily influenced by recorded blues, these musicians’ repertoires often included as many songs by nationally popular blues stylists as tunes traditional to their region. John Dee Holeman, born in 1929 in Orange County, NC, is one of the finer Durham bluesmen of this younger generation.
Holeman began picking guitar when he was 14, playing piedmont standards learned from his uncle and cousin and from the recordings of such area artists as Blind Boy Fuller. Raised on a farm, he made music primarily at house parties and at community work-gatherings, such as corn shuckings, tobacco curings, and wood choppings. When he was 25, Holeman purchased his first electric guitar and a moved to Durham. In the Bull City he found a still-active community of older blues musicians, including Thomas and Pauline Burt and Arthur Lyon, a frequent musical partner. Holeman’s smooth vocal style and his ability to play both traditional pieces and the latest popular boogie quickly made him an area favorite at “chitlin struts” and house parties in and around his community. Sharing his talents outside of this hometown, Holeman has played at the National Folk Festival and at Carnegie Hall and has made several tours overseas. In 1988, John Dee Holeman was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and he received a North Carolina Folk Heritage Award in 1994.
Courtesy of PineCone, www.pinecone.orgIn 1988, John Dee Holeman was presented with the National Heritage Fellowship of the Folk Arts Program of the National Endowment of the Arts.http://www.nea.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=1988_06
Full Name: John Dee Holeman
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