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‘David Holt’s State of Music’ Examines Future of Mountain Music

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David Holt and Rhiannon GiddensAsheville’s David Holt has found many ways over the years to present mountain music to the world. He performs the music himself and helps spread the tradition of mountain music, its history and its people, through stories, photography and television. In David Holt's State of Music, David introduces viewers to modern masters of traditional music in the Southern mountains and remembers the legends who taught him.

David Holt has spent his life learning and performing traditional American music. It has taken him from the most remote coves of southern Appalachia to the bright lights of TV studios and the Grand Old Opry stage. In David Holt's State of Music, David introduces viewers to modern masters of traditional music in the Southern mountains and remembers the legends who taught him. Featured artists are the phenomenal guitarist Bryan Sutton, multi-talented musician and ballad singer Josh Goforth, rising star Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, fiddle virtuoso Bruce Molsky, African American gospel torch-bearers Wilbur Tharpe and Lena Mae Perry (who perform as the Branchettes), and Haywood County bluegrass supergroup Balsam Range.

“When I came here in the late ’60s,” Holt says, “many of the old musicians were alive” and still performing. “Now they are all gone.”

Later this month, the four-time Grammy Award-winner will look ahead at the future of mountain music in “David Holt’s State of Music,” a one-hour special hosted by Holt. The program introduces viewers to “modern masters of traditional music in the southern mountains,” a press release reads, but it also revisits the legends who taught Holt. The program will be broadcast Thursday, Jan. 29, at 10 p.m. on UNC-TV.

Among the artists featured, according to the press release, are Grammy Award-winning Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, guitarist Bryan Sutton (also a Grammy winner), multi-talented musician and ballad singer Josh Goforth (who also lives in Asheville), fiddle virtuoso Bruce Molsky, gospel torch-bearers Wilbur Tharpe and Lena Mae Perry (who also perform as the Branchettes) and the Haywood County bluegrass supergroup Balsam Range.

With this program, Holt moves beyond being just the host and got involved in production, script writing, music choices and fundraising. The show is a joint effort with filmmakers Will and Deni McIntyre, who also handle directing and editing.

“We have been friends since the 1970s,” Holt said. “They moved to Hendersonville, so we got together and raised money to do this show.”

Holt is no stranger to television, having hosted such shows as “Folkways,” a North Carolina public television program that highlights traditional craftsmen and musician from the southern mountains. He also hosts the PBS series “Great Scenic Railway Journeys.” Other hosting duties have included the Nashville Network’s “Fire on the Mountain,” “Celebration Express” and “American Music Shop.”

Holt says the new program will show on other public television stations during February. After the broadcast, the show will be available on unctv.org, where a trailer for the show can be seen now.

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