Milan man to receive high music honor

Beth Rumsey
Staff Writer

A long-time Ripley County native will receive recognition for a lifetime of dedication and hard work in the music field this month.

Local bluegrass singer/songwriter Aubrey Holt, Milan, will be inducted into the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America’s (SPBGMA) Hall of Greats at their awards ceremony on February 6 in Nashville, TN. It was a unanimous vote that placed Holt among the other bluegrass greats, such as Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs.
“It’s a privilege to be recognized and appreciated by others,” said Holt.

Holt began his career in performing as a teen in the 1950’s with his uncle Harley Gabbard until 1958 when he joined the Navy. He and wife, Velma, married shortly after his discharge and she moved from Georgia back to Holt’s hometown of Milan where they raised six children.

Holt returned to his love of performing in 1974 when he and his brothers, Jerry and Tom, formed the Boys From Indiana. The group traveled all over the country and Canada for the next 22 years often playing as guests at the Grand Ole Opry.

The grueling schedule would not have been possible if not for the support of their families, according to Holt. “Traveling was hard on the family,” said Holt, adding, “but, they supported us.” The group ended in the 1990’s.

The group’s play list was made up of songs written by Holt, who also sang lead and played guitar. He has written songs for other artists over the years such as Alison Krauss and another local group, The Grascals.

Steve Romanoski, writer for the SPBGMA magazine and a member of the nominating committee, called Holt a “renaissance man” in bluegrass.

“Aubrey came out in a generation when bluegrass was in flux,” he said. “He stayed true to the bluegrass base and has added new material. His songs are still being played today because they are good.”

Today, Holt continues to perform with his son, Tony, as a member of the group Tony Holt and the Wildwood Valley Boys playing bass and singing as well as writing new material. “It gets into your blood,” said Holt.

Tony Holt and the Wildwood Valley Boys are scheduled to perform at the awards ceremony with Jamie Johnson (also from Milan) who is now with The Grascals, to present the award to Holt.

Holt will be presented the SPBGMA Hall of Greats award at the 37th Annual Convention at the Sheraton Music City Hotel in Nashville on Feb. 6.