Claire Holley writes songs that are literary, playful, meditative, and earthy. A native of Mississippi, she owes much to the southern tradition of storytelling, and just as much to the southern tradition of charm. With spare, delicate arrangements and a frank, lovely, and versatile sound, she sings deceptively simple songs. Claire began playing music when she was just two years old, when she and her grandmother, an accomplished jazz pianist, would play chop sticks on the piano at her home in Jackson, Mississippi.
But it was the guitar that really got her interested in playing music. She would take a ukulele to church and sit out in the hot car strumming it between Sunday school and the church service. She ruined her father’s classical guitar by replacing the nylon strings with steel strings so she could imitate what she’d been hearing on her favorite record, Chet Atkins and Merle Travis Traveling Show.
She moved to Chicago for college and began performing at coffeehouses and writing songs. At the suggestion of one of her professors, she studied the poems of William Blake and set one of them to music. That, along with two songs she wrote for the college arts CD, Kodon, set a nice foundation for recording songs for Night Air, her first independent release. Soon after college she moved to Chapel HIll, North Carolina, where she began recording in earnest, getting radio play on WUNC’s Back Porch Music. She signed with Yep Roc Records and her self-titled debut was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition.
She moved to Los Angeles in 2003 and, after falling in with some stellar west coast musicians, recorded Hush in a friend’s living room. She also began collaborating with directors and filmakers on their projects. She was nominated by the 2006 LA Weekly Theatre Awards for Best Original Music for the songs she wrote for the play, See Rock City. She has composed music for a feature length documentary, three short films, and two of her songs have been on ABC’s Men in Trees.
These songs and performances display Claire’s commitment to staking out new musical ground while still remaining true to her southern song-writing roots. She has released six records, and of her latest, Hush, one blogger wrote “…just plain, unabashed, good quality songs…delightful.” In 2009, Image Journal featured Holley as April’s artist of the month (from which some of this bio was taken). She lives in Los Angeles but goes home to Mississippi a lot!