Amy Holland was honored with a GRAMMY nomination for Best New Artist after her debut self-titled album. The single, “How Do I Survive”, soared into the Top 20 on the Billboard charts and put Amy on the map. It was ten years prior that she came to Los Angeles as a teenager to exploit her singer-songwriter skills. Fortuitously, she met then piano accompanist Michael McDonald, who was later to become producer of the hit LP alongside Patrick Henderson, making her a household name – and a few years after that, his wife. And now she’s back with a new studio album aptly entitled, Light on My Path, produced by award winning Fred Mollin (Dan Hill, Jimmy Webb, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Mathis, Billy Ray Cyrus and Miley Cyrus). It highlights her fluid and melodic style which will please country, jazz, blues and pop fans alike. In addition to the up-tempo first single “Walkin’ on a Wire”, which grabs you on the first chorus, the album features several sure-to-be classic ballads including “Prove That by Me,” a duet with Michael McDonald. Friends who contributed background vocals on the CD are David Pack (Ambrosia), David Crosby, Joseph Williams (Toto) and son Dylan McDonald. Amy co-wrote “Impossible Love” and “Light on My Path” on this record.
On the heels of her recording success that brought her fame globally, came her second album, On Your Every Word, also on Capitol Records. Although caught in the corporate crossfires there at the time, it was re-released by EMI in 2005. Cuts from the album, “Turn Out the Night” and “She’s on Fire” were featured in Scarface, and on the soundtrack, broadening her audience even more.
For the next several years, she became a staple for music supervisors of films big and small, most notably Night of the Comet (“Learn to Love Again” a duet with Chris Farren), Teen Wolf (“Shooting for the Moon”), St. Elmo’s Fire (“For Just a Moment (Love Theme from St. Elmo’s Fire”) duet with Donny Gerrard) and many more, as well as for television shows including One Life to Live (“All I Know” duet with Michael McDonald).
She also contributed vocally to recording projects with artists including Kenny Loggins, Joni Mitchell, Tim Weisburg, Doobie Brother Patrick Simmons as well as Michael McDonald’s solo albums. Her songs were recorded by Judy Collins (“The Journey to Miracle River”), Tim Weisburg (“I’ll Never Give Up”) and others and “She’s on Fire” was recently sampled by Lil Wayne.
By this time, Amy and Michael were married and had two children. Amy planned on a short hiatus to be a full-time mom and wife. The happy couple bought a farm in Tennessee and planned to settle down a bit from the typical rock ‘n’ roll whirlwind of touring and recording. As fate would have it, her lifelong dream career was brought to a screeching halt by a long and difficult battle with breast cancer — that she gratefully won!
In the interim, when she was in Maui at their vacation home and had no performances and nothing she had to do, she started collecting museum quality buttons, antique charms and old jewelry that she repurposed into one-of-a-kind pieces – each named after a song! They became so popular that she couldn’t keep up with the demand and, once she returned to California, put it on a back burner to begin writing and recording again.
Her third album, The Journey to Miracle River (2008, Chonin Records), reflects her renewed inspiration. Amy co-wrote all of the songs with friends Jon Vezner, John Goodwin, Michael McDonald and Bernie Chiaravalle and featured contributions from Vince Gill, Michael McDonald, Shannon Forrest, Stuart Duncan, Tim Akers and son Dylan McDonald, to name a few.
Amy’s voice is also heard on “Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth” from the very rare collector’s DVD “Peace” by Willie Nelson and Friends benefitting the National Veterans Foundation; also featured are Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Michael McDonald and Pat Simmons.
Amy came to music organically. She was born in Palisades, New York to very talented parents. Her mom was a star in the 1930s and ‘40s. Known as Esmereldy, she could best be described as Ray Stevens meets Minnie Pearl (without the hat). She played on her southern roots and performed her novelty songs with a thick Hillbilly twang. Some of her records were “Slap Her Down Again Paw,” “I Didn’t Know that the Gun Was Loaded,” and “I’m My Own Grandma.” She was a woman of many “firsts.” She was the first female DJ on WABC Radio in New York, was in “soundies” that played in movie theaters, which were the precursors to today’s music videos, and she was the voice of Possum Pearl in the Popeye cartoons. She was also a terrific musician with expertise on the ukulele and piano. Although she was offered a movie contract by MGM, she felt it best to quit show biz when she got married, “probably because she didn’t want to outshine dad,” according to Amy. But dad was certainly no slouch. He was an opera star on Broadway but needed something more stable when their first child was born. He became a mastering engineer at Mercury Records and was responsible for mastering hits like “Walk Away Renee” (Left Banke) and records for Dusty Springfield, Johnny Mathis, the Four Seasons and early Ray Stevens hits.
Growing up with such strong musical influences led her to know by the time she was twelve that music was what she wanted to do the rest of her life. Despite the bumps in the road before, during and between hits, Amy Holland is here to stay and her album Light on My Path allows her vocals and style to shine, proof that talent will always be in demand.