Saturday, June 1, 2013

Holley Johnson Malone Interview

Holley Johnson Malone Interview

Alabama Music goes to Vestavia Hills near Birmingham, Alabama to interview Holley Johnson Malone.

Holley Johnson Malone-Late blooming over comer says -"It's never too late!"
By Jerry W. Henry

We want to thank the new Vestavia Hills Library for the use of their facilities. The Library is a beautiful building set in a wooded landscape.

Holley Johnson Malone is a thirty something that has recently started making her dreams come true. Her dream is to be part of the world of music. Holley was born into a musical family in Killen, Alabama. Her parents were both musicians. Her father played the guitar and several different horns. Her mother is a guitar playing folk singer. She has an aunt with a beautiful operatic voice that was classically trained at Julliard. Her uncle is a guitar playing songwriter.

Holley was born with severe hearing loss. Her mother told her that as a baby and toddler, she would call her name and she would not respond. Her parents took her to a doctor that confirmed their observations and operated.  The operation was successful in restoring much of Holley's hearing.
As she says, "I was gifted with the ability to sing." Her family didn't know she could sing until she was twelve years old. She was singing in the shower, and when finished, opened the bathroom door. Her family was there to applaud. She says, "It was kind of cool to be acknowledged for something they figured I would never be able to do."

She took choral and band classes through out her school days. She got additional voice coaching during family get-togethers. Music was always part of family gatherings. "Guitars, banjos, pianos and loud, loud women singing," she laughingly tells me. She played saxophone in band, but her heart was in being a vocalist.

Music took a back seat to making a living when she left home at an early age. She wanted to make it on her own. Times were hard but she did it her way regardless. Eventually she met and married, and had two children. The marriage didn't last. She has worked at office positions,  in health care and now works for an accounting firm. All the while there was a yearning to sing.

A guitar-playing friend of hers wanted to start an open mic night. She helped him establish his open mic night and in doing so that put her before the public as a singer. She was hooked! The open mic night led to an opportunity for her to meet Kendra Sutton. Kendra told her, "You have a voice that needs to be heard." That is what she needed to hear. Now Kendra and Holley are band mates in Hallelujah Junction where Mike Mizell plays guitar, Mike Hill on bass and Alan Nettles on drums.

Holley told me, "I knew I needed to sing. I know I need to sing. Singing is something I have to do. I don't know how else to explain it. To have people that I don't know that well, hear me and want to continue to hear me. For them to say they are moved by the things that I sing. It's very rewarding. It's a fundamental joy. It's phenomenal! It's been wonderful!"

She talks about being a member of Hallelujah Junction, "I am the newbie in the group. I am the youngest person in the band, but not by much because Kendra and I are close in age. I have only been doing this for a little while and I feel very blessed to have these seasoned musicians bring me into their fold. They teach me knew things and at the same time they are very complimentary. It feels really nice to be acknowledged for the talent I have and I have been able to come into my own." She continues, "I've earned it. I've been paying my dues and it makes me feel so blessed and so happy to have finally found a way to express this side of myself. It's just great after twenty years in the work force and then to be able to play music every single week with these great people is very rewarding, very rewarding!"

Where does she see her music going? She answers, wherever it will take me. The sky is the limit as far as I am concerned. If you want to hear me then I am willing to sing. I love it. I love it enough to do it the rest of my life. I don't want to set a bar. Because I believe energy follows thought. So if I think big it's going to be big. That's just me. I'm going to be positive!"

Published in June 2013 Issue of Tannehill Trader

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