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Fort Bend Boys Choir Success Story:


John Holiday (Photo - Fay Fox)

John Holiday (Photo – Fay Fox)

Interview by Mara Soloway

A Q&A With John Holiday

John Holiday joined the Fort Bend Boys Choir in 1993 (as verified by his mother, Waverly Holiday) at 8 years old. He won the highly coveted Outstanding Choirboy Award in 1999. The successful opera and jazz singing artist most recently won the 2017 Marian Anderson Vocal Award from the Kennedy Center.

 

  • Q – What it was the choir audition like?
  • A – My music teacher, Mrs. Dorothy Arnold, told me the audition consisted of some vocalizes and singing My Country ’Tis of Thee, which I did not know. That was a bit intimidating for me; however, Mrs. Arnold said that I could come in each day before school to go over the song.

I remember that audition like it was yesterday. I met Ms. Sara Ward, who was at the piano, and Mr. William Adams. It was a great moment.Then, I began to sing, showing them what I had been working on. At that point, I had a lot of vibrato in my voice, and Mr. Adams specifically asked me to minimize it, explaining that it was important to the blending of the choir. After I sang the audition piece, Mr. Adams sat at the piano and began to play random pitches to see if I could match them. I deeply wanted to become a member of the FBBC. I guess I did something right!

 

  • Q – How did Mr. Adams help you throughout your tenure?
  • A – Where do I begin? As a young child, Mr. Adams was a central figure in my life. As any good teacher would do, he always set the bar higher than I thought I could achieve. Just as I would be within arm’s reach of the bar, he’d set it higher and higher still. I know that Mr. Adams did that because he realized the amount of potential within me. At a young age, I couldn’t see that for myself, but I did know that God had given me a unique gift. Mr. Adams’ belief in me and my artistry made me strive for excellence, but it also made me believe in the extraordinary gift of music that God gave to me, and that it was viable and poignant. Truly, Mr. Adams nurtured my gift and helped to guide me along my musical journey. For that, I’m so grateful.

 

  • Q – How did your time with the Fort Bend Boys Choir prepare you for a professional singing career?
  • A – The amount of dedication, discipline and devotion that I was expected to have as a chorister in the FBBC have carried over into my professional life and practices as a singing artist. I’m constantly thinking about Mr. Adams’ 3A’s of life: Adapt, Adjust and Accept and his favorite, Perfect Practice Makes Perfect Performance. These are all things that I’ve kept for my professional life – those 3A’s come in VERY handy!

 

  • Q – What was it like to sing in the Sistine Chapel and sing for the Pope?
  • A – Oh my word! The Sistine Chapel was absolutely stunning. Just our music and the beauty of Michelangelo’s paintings enwrapped us. The energy was palpable. Once we began to sing and hear our voices resonate with the beautiful acoustics in the Sistine Chapel, it was like God himself came down and wrapped us up in His love. I shall never forget that moment. We also sang for Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica. He had just a beautiful energy about him even though he was very ill. Subsequent to his death, I have visited the Vatican many times, and I’ve walked by his tomb. I can still feel his presence.

 

  • Q – What do you say to boys about joining the choir?
  • A – Boys – if you love singing, keep singing with joy. The world needs you and your artistry. Continue striving each day to become better at your craft, and keep your eyes on the goal that you’ve set for yourself. There’s only one of you in all of time – get about the business of being the best you that you can be. When noise is around you, find a space to get quiet so that you can be one with yourself and the man upstairs so that you can hear Him and where He’s trying to guide you. And, amidst the tough times, just know that God’s got your back, and keep on keepin’ on.

Whenever fears arise, I think of what my grandmother, Sandra Mathis Franklin, always says to me, “Nothin’ beats a failure but a try.” In essence, as long as you try, you’re not failing; you’re a winner. Perform as much as you can, wherever you can and do it with joy. The world, especially right now, needs your artistry. And, when those tough times come, just stop and say Thank You! As artists, we are privileged and blessed to be able to do what we love. Keep singing, and you’ll never know whose life you’re changing.

I am forever changed because of music and because of my tenure in the Fort Bend Boys Choir of Texas. Mr. Adams, you’re certainly “Making a difference…One boy at a time.” You made a difference in my life. Congratulations on this wonderful milestone, and I’m praying that there will be many more.

 


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