Singer/songwriter and Salford Alumni James Holt, believes his time at Salford University helped him to launch his career.
James, who is originally from Bolton, studied and lived in Salford, developing his music career whilst living in the city.
The musician Graduated from Salford University with a first-class honour’s degree and MA in Music Composition, finishing his studies in 2017.
James stated: “I really enjoyed my time at Salford. Before I went to Salford, I wanted to be a serious composer. During my time at University my professors would listen to my songs and they would encourage me to pursue music, and what I’m doing today really is thanks to them”.
Here’s a clip of my live sesh on the Kicking Back podcast, performing MAKE MY DAY – I had such a great time filming this! 🎸 pic.twitter.com/wL2flzJj2Q
— James Holt (@jamesholtmusic) September 21, 2021
Since graduation he has reached great success, and most recently won The ‘Tuff’ International Song of Kindness Contest, a competition aiming to find a song that raised spirits in response to the challenging times the world has been facing.
With over 15,000 applicants from 19 countries across the world, and nine other finalists, James faced tough competition.
He said: “I was shocked when they announced I’d won, and they got me on stage and asked me how I felt. I just sort of stood there not saying anything, I was speechless.”
James’ winning single, ‘Make my day’ highlights a moment when kindness is often cherished the most.
He stated: “Before I played the song, I explained that it was about receiving visitors when you’re in hospital and how it makes you feel happy and grateful, you feel a sense of gratitude.
“And they said when they were announcing the winner that it wasn’t really about the performance it was about the song and how it related to the concept of kindness, and that’s the reason why they chose mine”.
Launching this year, the competition was inspired by John Lennon’s anthemic hit ‘Imagine’. Developed by International charity ‘tuff.earth’, the organisation began their search on what would have been John’s 80th Birthday and fittingly hosted the final in Liverpool’s Cavern Club.
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A huge fan of the Beatles, the singer took inspiration from the iconic Liverpudlian band in his music and style.
James said” “When I around sixteen, seventeen I kind of got obsessively into The Beatles. But Dangerously obsessive, I had the hair, I started talking like them.
They sculpted my life in a way, and I thought I would really like to write songs like there’s, as they combine all these elements of classical music and pop. It kind of stemmed from them that I started this song writing journey, that accelerated when I was studying at Salford.”
Alongside winning this prestigious award James will have his song professionally produced, mixed and mastered by record producer and head of ‘TUFF’ music, Daniel Zander at Liverpool’s Motor Museum studio, known for hosting the likes of Oasis and The Artic Monkeys.
The musician’s musical accolades seem all the more impressive considering he was born with profound hearing loss.
The singer song writer explained, “I was born deaf. I was only diagnosed when I was around four or five, so for those first few years of my life I would just copying what other people did and I learnt how to speak by just reading lips.
“Around the time I was diagnosed and first given hearing aids, my whole audio world would have been expanded. And it was around this time that I became quite fascinated with this big wooden box that was in my parent’s house, that I later found out was called a piano. My earliest memory is trying to reach up and pressing the keys.
He further added, “It’s kind of funny that the thing I’m most passion about and the thing that I love stems from my hearing and my disability. It’s taken a while to come round full circle, but it sort of makes me a little bit grateful for it”.
Alongside his recent success, James recently released his single ‘One hand strikes the other’, which powerfully explores an abusive relationship from an outside perspective.
Highlighting the duty of responsibility, we all have when faced with such violence.
James explained: “I wrote it quite a while ago. It’s about the of subject of domestic violence and I wrote it not knowing what to do with it or how to release it. I showed it to a friend of mine, Gay Wharton, who was a patron at the charity fortalice, and we came up with the idea of releasing the single for the charity last year”.
Aimed to raise awareness and money for a domestic violence charity in Bolton, the singer songwriter dedicated the song to a long-time friend and fan Gay Wharton, the former mayoress of Bolton, who was tragically killed last year.
In her honour James performed a charity gig at Manchester’s ‘The Rose and Monkey Hotel’ on 28th October, with all proceeds’ to be donated to the charity.
James added: “The whole project was put on ice and everything that happened it took a new personal meaning to me. I think she would have been glad and so pleased with how it’s all turned out”.
With a successful past few months under his belt, it’s exciting to see where James’ career will take him next.
You can listen to James Holt on Spotify and Apple Music. Check him out on Instagram @jamesholtmusic, Twitter @jamesholtmusic and Facebook @James Holt.