I grew up in British Guyana. I was the youngest member of a musical family. My grandfather was an amazing pianist, who mastered every style, taught classical piano by day, Pipe organist for the catholic church, but preferred to have a goodtime, playing ragtime piano in the local clubs at night. My grandmother, a violinist never endorsed the popular nightclub music. My mother’s brother was the tenor attraction in the local opera society, and my mother was my grandfather’s apprentice and organist at a local church.
My home was always filled with music. By day it was The Ruby Holland School of Music, which was my mother’s conservatory. Surrounded by 6 pianos, and my mother’s vocal students. I was the cranky 2year old holding on to her dress. By late afternoon when my father the electrical engineer, returned from work, we reverted to normal family life. My two older sisters were also enrolled in my mother’s school, and assisted in helping my mother teach the beginners.
My talent was discovered when I was around 4yrs. old. My sister Elizabeth was practicing Beethoven’s moonlight sonata for a recital and on another piano, I began playing the simple melody along with her for at least 16 bars, before she stopped in shock that I actually was playing the piano by ear. Later they discovered that I had perfect pitch, and my musical life was kick started.
From that time I remember playing the piano until I fell asleep on it every night. My mother taught me how to read music, but my ears were so developed, that I would learn the piece by simply hearing her play it, then act as if I was reading the notes, when I was actually playing by ear.
I reminded my mother of her father and brother, so much so that her trauma from their separate tragic deaths, linked to their individual popular music life, caused her to be very overprotective of me in an effort to guard me from the popular music that she related to my grandfather and uncle’s death.
I was forbidden to play anything but classical or sacred music at home. So, when she wasn’t at home, naturally I did my thing. After school, on the way home, I would ride my bicycle by all local reggae band rehearsals, and listen to them rehearse from outside, wishing I could be a part of it. I was 11 years old at the time.
My wish came thru one day when I boldly challenged a local band member that I could teach them the song they were struggling with. He thought he would embarrass me as he assumed that I was just one of the many fans gathered around the gates of their outdoor rehearsal everyday. The band wanted me to join immediately…I said yes, not caring that my mother would forbid it. So my young teenage life went from band to band, since I had to leave each band once my mother found out. I now had an established reputation as the kid who could rehearse but never showed up for the gig.
My sister Alice and I devised a plan for me to getaway; she carefully put together a dummy in my bed as I escaped home once a week to play the local clubs with my band. I was now doing exactly what my mother’s brother did before his unfortunate death, and Alice was playing the exact role that my mother played.
My parents were clueless to our successful ploy until my band, played a local club in a remote area that required ferry transport. The band missed the last ferry back to the city. I was 14 years old at the time, and coming home at 6 am on Sunday morning should have enabled me to sneak back into the house, but not with my parents, they were already in the garden, planting and pruning as I stepped into the gate. So all was revealed and my mother hated deception, so she allowed me to play in bands, realizing how much I loved it. I found out later that she did actually enjoy all the music I was involved in, and was very proud of me. I continued in my mother’s school and received certification from the Royal Schools Of Music in England, because of my mother’s affiliations
I graduated from a science high school before my 16th birthday, and my dad, convincing me that music should be just a hobby, sent me off to Canada to study electronics. Two months after, I joined a rock band, used my parent’s tuition dollars to buy music equipment, dropped out of school, allowed my student’s visa to expire, and was eventually deported back home. Now I was sure that my destiny was to be a musician. Six months later I received a scholarship to study music at The Aaron Copland School of music in New York. I excelled in the music department there, but my most valuable lessons were learned in the practice rooms hanging out and jamming with musicians like Marcus Miller & Steve Jordan. Steve & Marcus turned me on to the popular session crew in NYC and helped me get in to the jingle scene of the advertising industry.
At the same time I dedicated my life to Christ, joined The Rescue Church and entered the Gospel music world. I started a Christian/fusion band, New Creation, which was misunderstood, so we played in outdoor parks and street festivals as a Christian outreach ministry. The pastor and other well-wishers encouraged us by funding our recording demo project. That’s when I met Sanchez Harley in an adjoining studio. We drove to Nashville, slept in Sanchez’s basement and worked on our project, stretching the little money we had. The band eventually broke up, when I was offered my first job in the church world as Minister Of Music for the Pilgrim church in Brooklyn. I needed the job, being newly married with children.
Bishop Roy E. Brown loved music, and promoted many concerts featuring famous gospel singers, and I wrote many songs and cantatas, put together a small orchestra which performed live on radio every Sunday. At the same time, Sanchez and I had formed a production company, and convinced the church to record an album for the talented choir, after which, the bishop felt that my tenure was over, and never released the album. While mixing the album in Nashville Tennessee, I made many contacts that liked the songs, and so I gave two to Shirley Caesar, and two to Bobby Jones. Sanchez and myself produced the Shirley Caesar album, and one of the songs on the album, a duet with Al Green, won a Grammy award. This was the beginning of my production career.
The details of my production career is another long juicy story, but it kept me off the road, and I have always preferred not to be a musician on the road, working on various tours as some of my amazing friends colleagues and associates. I have much respect for those musicians. Fortunately, most of my work has been in a studio, a church or a workshop.
I have worked and lived in all three music centers of the USA. New York, Nashville and Los Angeles, and as my music career developed, I was blessed to have received a few special awards, and to have worked with many amazing artists, workshops, churches, playwrights, music houses, writers, and directors, afforded opportunities as a musician, arranger, composer, producer, engineer, singer, conductor and educator.
I still maintain an international client list, and I am now quite happy writing and producing songs for my electronica/reggae band TimeShadow, in my new studio at my new home. Being an ambassador of Peace & Love for THE LORD that was, and is and is to come, has always and will always be a part of who I am.
I have finally moved away from the New York tri-state area in 2016 where I lived for 40 years. North Texas is now my home with my wife Toni. I am also the proud father of 8 wonderful children and 6 adorable grandchildren.
My sister Elizabeth currently runs my mother’s music school, The Ruby Holland School Of Music, with the help of my sister Alice. I sit on the board of directors. They have finally convinced me to get back to the family tradition of music education and developing talent…and that is my current quest.
I have been nominated for five Daytime Emmy awards from 2001 to 2005, all of which were for Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for a Drama Series, work on All My Children. I won the award in 2002, 2003, and 2005. Received the ASCAP award top10 songs 1990. Produced 1998 Grammy award winning CD for artist Deniece Williams, 1987 Grammy award winning single on Shirley Caesar & Al Green. Performed and sang on 1998 Grammy award Album Of The Year for Lauryn Hill and 1999 Grammy award winning Album Of The year for Carlos Santana.