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Isaac "Redd" Holt

World-class musician Isaac Redd Holt was born on May 16, 1932, in Rosedale, Mississippi. He attended public schools in Chicago and received advanced musical instruction at the Chicago School of Music in the early 1950s. Holt's interest in drums and percussion began as a child, and Holt bought his first drum set when he was a sophomore at Crane Technical High School. He graduated from high school in 1951 and attended the Cosmopolitan School of Music in Chicago. In the 1980s, Holt attended Kennedy-King College to study radio and television.

Between 1954 and 1966, Holt was part of the original Ramsey Lewis Trio, with which he created the hit singles "Hang on Sloopy" and "In Crowd." He was co-founder and leader of Young-Holt Unlimited from 1966 to 1974, with which he created another hit, "Soulful Strut," and the successful single, "Wack Wack," which was used in the movie Harriet the Spy and various other movies and commercials. Since 1974, he has been the leader and owner of Redd Holt Unlimited. He continues to wow audiences with his percussion and vocal skills, performing at jazz clubs, festivals, theaters and concerts around the world.

As a jazz educator, Holt has been active for many years in Urban Gateways, a nonprofit organization that provides multicultural performing, visual and literary arts programs for children, teachers and parents in the Chicago area. Holt acts as an arts ambassador to school children to help improve the quality of their education by exposing them to his music and engaging them in creating, appreciating, and reflecting on his art form.

From 1980 to 1985, Holt directed the Gumption Performing Artists Workshop for artists to enhance their talents. Holt has received various awards and honors including the Jazz Master Award from the Midwest Arts, a Lifetime Achievement Award from Indianapolis Radio Sounds of Jazz, and Grand Master of Time Award in 1997 from the Jazz Institute of Chicago and the DuSable Museum of African American History.

He married his childhood sweetheart, Marylean, in 1954. They have three children, Isaac Lamont, Ivan Damoune and Reginald Lamar.

Accession Number

A2003.011

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/17/2003

Last Name

Holt

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

"Redd"

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School

Speakers Bureau

No

First Name

Isaac

Birth City, State, Country

Rosedale

HM ID

HOL01

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Tim Schwertfeger and Gail Waller

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

When You Don't Know And Don't Know That You Don't Know, You Don't Know.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/16/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Soul Food

Short Description

Jazz musician Isaac "Redd" Holt (1932 - ) was a part of the original Ramsey Lewis Trio, co-founder and leader of Young-Holt Unlimited, and was the founder and director of the Gumption Performing Artists Workshop.

Employment

The Ramsey Lewis Trio

Young-Holt Unlimited

Redd-Holt

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Isaac "Redd" Holt's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Isaac "Redd" Holt lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes his maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes his paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about his grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about his maternal family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes his family's move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Isaac "Redd" Holt shares memories of his hometown of Rosedale, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood in Rosedale, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes his dislike of Chicago upon moving there

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes growing up in West Side Chicago

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes why he enrolled at Crane Technical High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes what inspired him to become a drummer

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Isaac "Redd" Holt remembers purchasing his first drum set

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes being on the Crane Technical High School basketball team and working through high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes his first drum set

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about the only time he played a Rogers drum set

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about the cyclical nature of life

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes forming his first band, the West Side Clefts, and meeting HistoryMakers Eldee Young and Ramsey Lewis

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes why the West Side Clefts broke up

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes his experiences serving in the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes the early days of the Ramsey Lewis Trio

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes how he and HistoryMakers Eldee Young and Ramsey Lewis were introduced to Leonard and Phil Chess

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes being managed by HistoryMaker Daddy-O Daylie

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes how the name "Ramsey Lewis Trio" came to be

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about the publishing companies he and HistoryMaker Eldee Young manage

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes how the Ramsey Lewis Trio built an audience

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about the Ramsey Lewis Trio's major hit, "The 'In' Crowd"

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes his entertainment philosophy

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about the versatility of jazz music

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes the pressures and challenges commercially popular jazz musicians face

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes liking to perform in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes the benefit of collaboration and teamwork in the entertainment industry

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes the break-up of the "Ramsey Lewis Trio", pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes the break-up of the "Ramsey Lewis Trio", pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes how Young-Holt Unlimited was signed to Associate Booking Corporation by Joe Glaser

Tape: 3 Story: 15 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about his favorite places to perform in Washington, D.C. in the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about Abe Saperstein, Joe Glaser, and their networking with club owners across the country

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes why he and HistoryMaker Eldee Young sued HistoryMaker Ramsey Lewis

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about his passion for ministry

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes his talking tambourines solo

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes his drumming technique

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about his music being sampled without permission

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about the Gumption Performing Artists Workshop and the Urban Gateways Program

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes the Gumption Performing Artists Workshop

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about his sons, and musical innovation on Chicago's South Side

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes playing at Birdland in New York City, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes playing the "Free Sounds of '63" package with HistoryMaker Oscar Brown, Jr., Floyd Morris, Cannonball Adderley, and others

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes playing a 1964 package with HistoryMakers Oscar Brown, Jr. and Nancy Wilson, Cannonball Adderley, and others in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Isaac "Redd" Holt gives advice to young musicians, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Isaac "Redd" Holt gives advice to young musicians, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about the power of recording live music

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about electronic music

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes how promotion shapes peoples' perceptions of music

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Isaac "Redd" Holt shares his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Isaac "Redd" Holt reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes how his mother supported him

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Isaac "Redd" Holt reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes his musical influences

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes the sound of the early Ramsey Lewis Trio

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about funk music

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes how he got the nickname "Redd"

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes his experiences as an artist for Chess Records

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about Leonard Chess

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes how the Ramsey Lewis Trio was able to record their album, "Down to Earth," for Mercury Records

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Isaac "Redd" Holt remembers eating at Bats Restaurant on Leonard Chess' tab

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about his sons' band, The Young-Holts, and their future projects

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes forming his bands Young-Holt Unlimited and Redd-Holt

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Isaac "Redd" Holt talks about his current projects and collaborations

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes the challenges of being a drummer in a band

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes performing with the Ramsey Lewis Trio

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Isaac "Redd" Holt describes his musical legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Isaac "Redd" Holt narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Isaac "Redd" Holt narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

3$9

DATitle
Isaac "Redd" Holt describes how the name "Ramsey Lewis Trio" came to be
Isaac "Redd" Holt describes the pressures and challenges commercially popular jazz musicians face
Transcript
When we first started it was to say Gentlemen Jazz or either Gentlemen of Swing. We decided upon that second album, which had pictures of us on it, all three. And Daddy-O [Daylie, HM] had formed a partnership for us and had had papers drawn up, and we had all signed, so we had a partnership. So it came to being that they felt like the marquee, the, the piano player was the front man. That's the way it started off, saying well, the piano is the front man. You got Ahmad Jamal, you got John Young, you got all these, you know, you got Oscar Peterson, Billy Taylor. And we were saying, but no, Gentleman of Jazz is what we were talking about in the beginning, you know. As old the words say, from jump street, from jump street. That's what we were talking about. Now it began to change. And we used to have meetings. We had meetings like, my wife, Ramsey's [Lewis, HM] wife, Eldee's wife, and the children sitting right there; they were little, little bitty ones there, you know. And so we got through it. So, for the benefit of the whole group and what Daddy-O was talking about, shortening the name, and the piano being this, Eldee [Young, HM] and I agreed. We agreed because in order to say hey, we all gon' make some money. And so we agreed to that, and that's what it originally was supposed to be. So tho--those were mistakes that were made. And sometimes you say maybe it was inevitable, because look what happened with Young-Holt Trio, Young-Holt Unlimited, Redd-Holt Unlimited, Eldee Young Quartet, Trio--you know.$And tho--those, that was like--people say later on you, well, you guys sold out. You sold out. Wait a minute. What do you mean, sold out? Well, you sold out. You stopped playing all of that stuff and all of this here. So, wait a minute, man. Well, it's commercial. You say oh, you mean it's sellable, huh? Oh, it's a sellable item. You say yeah, okay. You, you understand? But, and see, that's the problem, has always been with a lot of jazz cats. Right now today you got guys are down on Kenny G. But to me Kenny G now is turning a lot of people around to listen to the jazz and listen to things that we have already done and created, already--he's, in other words, he's opened their ears up. And that's what the Ramsey Lewis Trio, the Young-Holt Unlimited, the Redd-Holt Unlimited, the Three Sounds, the Les McCanns, these are the things that we felt, because we had that feeling on it.$$I, I understand what you're saying. My, my first introduction to John Coltrane, who people would argue is as pure as they come, you know, was when he played "Favorite Things."$$There it is, my favorite--$$My mother had a copy of "Favorite Things," that's right.$$[Singing] Snowflakes that fall on your eyelash they say now ooh, de, de, de, and Trane knew it.$$From "The Sound of Music." That's from "The Sound of Music."$$Right.$$Right.$$And, and Trane knew, Trane knew. Didn't he, didn't he do Chim Chimney, Chim Chimney, Chu, be, de, da, la, de, de, de, de, de, de doo. Hey, man, that's catchable, hey, wow, and you can communicate with people, is what you wanna do. And you gon' say no, man, un, baby, that ain't hip enough. What is hip? Let's go back then, go--what is hip? You hippin' people to something, aren't you? I, I, you know, I, get out there, man. Hey, man, (laughter).$$Well, you got to talk about it. That's what you should, you should do, you should be talking about this.$$Ooh, man, you know, like, hey, man, and, and life is so short. It's 'cause life is so short, man, and we have such a small length of time to do these things. And you gon' sit around and, and--well, naw, I don't, that, that ain't cool to do, or this ain't that. Do you feel it? Is it in your heart? Let yourself feel it.$$Roland Kirk was another--$$Ooh, I loved him, I loved him.$$--who, who nobody would argue that he wasn't cool enough, or he wasn't hip enough, but Roland Kirk would play anything. He played--$$Man--$$--my, "My Favorite Things," at--you know (simultaneous).