Fact sheet

David Holt Fact Sheet


Date of birth: October 15, 1946

Place of birth: Gatesville, Texas

Lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina near Asheville since 1973 with his wife, Ginny Callaway


Graduated magna cum laude from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Bachelor of Science and Arts degrees in Biology and Art (1971)

Advanced degree in Education, UCSB (1973)


Performed as a musician and storyteller full-time throughout the world since 1981

Performed nationally with Doc Watson (1998-2012)

Founded and directed the Appalachian Music Program at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC (1975-1981)

Tours for US State Department as musical ambassador: Nepal/India/Thailand (1971); Bolivia, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Chile (1980-2002); Mali, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia (1986)

Mentors and Friends: a touring exhibition of David’s black and white photos taken throughout his career (2016-present)

Fully Exposed: mixed media painting exhibit (2014)


Banjo, Slide Guitar, Guitar, Ukulele, Bones, Jaw Harp, Washboard, Harmonica

Awards and Recognitions:        

Two GRAMMY Awards (artist and producer) for Legacy with Doc Watson – Best Folk Recording (2003)

Two GRAMMY Award (artist and producer) for Stellaluna – Best Children’s Spoken Word Recording (1997)

Eight GRAMMY Nominations for additional recordings

SERFA Award for distinguished service and exceptional contributions to folk music in the southeast region of Folk Alliance International presented by SERFA (2021)

Bascom Lunsford Award presented by the Folk Heritage Committee, Asheville, North Carolina (2018)

Inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame (2016)

Included in North Carolina String Music Masters: Old-time and Bluegrass Legends book by Elizabeth Carlson (2016)

Heritage Hero Award for dedication to the promotion and preservation of the music, dance and storytelling of the Southern Appalachians with teaching, radio, television and live performances throughout the world presented by the Blue Ridge National Heritage Committee (2013)

Inducted into the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame which honors those involved with music active within the greater Blue Ridge Mountains area (2012)

Included in Twelve Notables in Western North Carolina: Notable Life Stories book by Jack J. Prather (2012)

Uncle Dave Macon Heritage Award for promotion and preservation of Old Time Music (2011)

Brown-Hudson Folklore Award presented by the North Carolina Folklore Society (2007)

Inducted into the National Storytelling Association’s Circle of Excellence (1996)

Named “The Best of the New Generation” by Esquire Magazine in its first annual Register of Men and Women Who Are Changing America (1984)

Razor Walker Award from the University of North Carolina “presented to individuals in the service of youth who have demonstrated vision, tenacity, sacrifice and courage. Those who walk the razor’s edge.” (1993)

Three-time winner of the Frets magazine readers’ poll for “best old-time banjoist”


Host of PBS Series:

David Holt’s State of Music (2015-present)

Folkways series (1980-present)

Great Scenic Railway Journeys (1999-present) on PBS and the Travel Channel worldwide

Specials for North Carolina PBS:

North Carolina Mountain Treasures (2005)

The Outer Banks (2002)

The Blue Ridge Parkway (2000)

Highway 64

An Evening with Doc Watson and David Holt (1998)

Host of TNN (The Nashville Network) Programs:

Fire on the Mountain (1984-1987)

Celebration Express (1988-1989)

American Music Shop (1989-1991)

Multiple guest appearances on Hee Haw (1985-1994)

Over 50 appearances as a guest on wide variety of TNN programs including Prime Time Country and Nashville Now

Multiple guest appearances on Grand Ole Opry 


Twenty-five years as host of Public Radio’s Riverwalk: Classic Jazz from the Landing (1989-2014)

Music Recordings on High Windy Audio:        

        David Holt in Concert DVD (2016)

Good Medicine with Josh Goforth (2016)

When the Train Comes Along (2011)

Cutting Loose with David Holt & Josh Goforth  

GRAMMY nominee (2007)

David Holt & the Lightning Bolts with Josh Goforth, Laura Boosinger, David Cohen and Zeb Holt (2006)

Let It Slide with Doc Watson and Sam Bush (2005)

Live And Kickin’ at the National Storytelling Festival with Zeb Holt GRAMMY nominee (2003)

Legacy with Doc Watson 3 CD collection  

GRAMMY Award winner (2003)

I Got A Bullfrog: Folksongs For The Fun Of It 

American Library Association’s Notable Recordings (1994)

Grandfather’s Greatest Hits with Doc Watson, Jerry Douglas, Duane Eddy, Chet Akins and Sam Bush  

GRAMMY nominee for Best Traditional Folk Recording and Parents Magazine’s First Parents Prize. (1991)

Reel & Rock with Doc and Merle Watson

INDIE Award Winner Best Folk Recording. (1985) 25th Anniversary Reissue (2010)

Music recordings on June Appal Records:

It Just Suits Me (1985)

Instructional Videos on Homespun Tapes:

Folk Rhythms (1996, 2004)

Clawhammer Banjo: Repertoire and Technique 1 & 2 (1997, 2004)

Clawhammer Banjo: The Basics and Beyond (2013)

Storytelling recordings on High Windy Audio:

Hairyman MeetsTailybone (2006)

Spiders in the Hairdo with Bill Mooney  

GRAMMY nominee (2001)


GRAMMY Award American Booksellers Association “Pick of the List”, American Library Association Notable Recording (1997)

Why the Dog Chases the Cat: Great Animal Stories 

GRAMMY Nominee, American Library Association Notable Recording, NAIRD Award winner (1995)

Mostly Ghostly Stories 

INDIE Award winner (1995)


American Library Association Notable Recording, INDIE Award winner (1985)


American Library Association Notable Recording (1981)

The Hogaphone and Other Stories (video) (1991)


Spiders in the Hairdo: Modern Urban Legends with Bill Mooney (August House Publishers) (1999)

The Exploding Toilet: Modern Urban Legends with Bill Mooney (August House Publishers) (2004)

Ready-To-Tell Tales: Collection of Sure-Fire Stories (August House Publishers) (1994)

More Ready-To-Tell Tales: Stories from Around the World (August House Publishers) (2000)

The Storytellers Guide: Complete “How-to” for Storytellers (August House Publishers) (1997)

What others say about David Holt:

 “His work is marked not only by vigor and charm, but by particular craftsmanship.” Esquire

“The best musical storyteller is David Holt.” VOGUE

“David Holt and his music are American originals.” Columbus Dispatch

“Holt is the keeper of a national treasure, and close to being one himself.” Mike Redmond, The Indianapolis News

“He performs up a storm.” Boston Globe

“I think David could ring music out of a stump.” Bob Terrell, Asheville Citizen-Times