Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Lonnie Holley is an artist and art educator as well as a musician. His life story is something like out of a movie: born during the Jim Crow era, he was the 7th of 27 children. At the age of four, he was traded for a bottle of whiskey and was then put to work at the age of five. While working odd jobs – washing dishes, picking up trash at a drive-in movie theater, digging graves, and picking cotton – he lived in several foster homes and never experienced a real childhood. Add in stint at the juvenile facility Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children and being pronounced brain-dead after being struck by a car, and you have a compelling story about a true survivor. But instead of destroying him, his life inspired his art…
His first steps towards a life in art began in heartbreaking fashion: he carved tombstones for two of his sister’s children who perished in a house fire. However, this eventually led to him creating sandstone carvings that were then displayed at the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the High Museum of Art (Atlanta), and the American Folk Art Museum. He then embraced painting and creating found-object sculptures. After conquering the art community, Lonnie Holley then turned to music. Mixing avant-garde, experimental, and folk art, he released his debut album, JUST BEFORE MUSIC, in 2012. The album was a critical success and he followed it with the albums KEEPING A RECORD OF IT (2013), LIVE ON THE MODERN WORLD WITH DJ TROUBLE (2013), MITH (2018), NATIONAL FREEDOM (2020), and BROKEN MIRROR: A SELFIE REFLECTION, a collaboration with Matthew E. White (2021).
Now, in 2023, Lonnie Holley returns with OH ME OH MY, an album that challenges the listener’s emotions from the moment it starts to the echoes of the album’s final notes. Produced by Jacknife Lee, the album incorporates many different genres – including gospel, ambient, jazz, soul, and electronica – and feels more like a musical journey than just a collection of songs. While the album’s songs are musically different from each other, OH ME OH MY is an album that is difficult to pigeonhole. Deeply personal and emotional, OH ME OH MY paints pictures with sound, allowing the songs to connect with the listeners in different ways – nobody will hear this album in the same way. With musical assistance from Michael Stipe, Sharon Van Etten, Moor Mother, and Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), this an album that will stir your emotions like never before.
OH ME OH MY