Led by the lyrical craftsmanship of singer, guitarist, and songwriter Clint Roberts, the distinctly Appalachian, old-time sound of Asheville’s Holler Choir combines haunting harmonies, stirring string compositions, and heart-wrenching ballads, yet hardly conforms to a stereotypical genre. Call it a confluence of old-time, Americana, and bluegrass, but, by its own exceptional design, the sound and atmosphere of Holler Choir are singular. Robert’s wordcraft and explosive vocal range is met with the dulcet clawhammer banjo plucking of long-time collaborator Helena Rose and the sturdy timekeeping of upright bassist Norbert McGettigan. With a rotating cast of gifted musicians featured on Holler Choir’s recordings and electrifying live performances, it’s no wonder they are the band to watch right now.
The band’s inception began when recording Robert’s 2022 solo release, entitled “Mountain Air.” That fortuitous collaboration of gifted roots musicians at Asheville’s Crossroads Studios proved to be the genesis of an unmistakable new sound built on that shared experience. Produced by Grammy award-winning multi- instrumentalist Michael Ashworth of The Steep Canyon Rangers, the five-song EP lit the fuse, and Holler Choir was well on its way to delight audiences throughout the southeast and beyond.
For their debut full-length record, “Songs Before They Write Themselves,” Holler Choir again teamed up with producer Michael Ashworth. Released in January 2024, the album was tracked in the historic Echo Mountain Studio’s church room and boasts the engineering prowess of Jason Richmond (Avett Brothers, Rising Appalachia), and was mastered by Grammy Award-winning engineer, Kim Rosen. “Songs Before They Write Themselves” is a record at the crossroads of modernity and tradition, with songwriting and lyrical themes that are firmly in both camps. The name of the record itself implies an uncertain future for the creation of music, that we will soon be able to generate entirely original music with the click of a mouse. Roberts writes to familiar themes of heartbreak and melancholy while simultaneously pondering existential questions not typically tackled within string band music. “I believe this record may not appeal to all of those who are preoccupied with the confines of a music genre,” says Roberts. “But I also believe meaningful music is not made whilst in the act of trying to please everyone.” You be the judge of Holler Choir’s latest release “Songs Before They Write Themselves”.