This is the story of Holly Kirby so far. If you’re prepared to look, video evidence of quite a lot of it is available on YouTube. Although Holly would probably prefer if you didn’t look..
November 1990. The beginning. Born on the Isle of Wight, England, Holly is entitled to call herself a true Caulkhead. If she wants to, of course…
The early years (part one). Music is part of Holly's life from the beginning. Her first teddy bear plays Brahms Lullaby, and from then on all types of music fascinate Holly. Eventually she learns to respond in kind with all types of noise of her own. Some of it rather loud.
The early years (the next bit) Holly gradually becomes a little more tuneful. She decides to learn musical instruments. Most of them. And to sing. A Lot.
2006. Aged 15 (and a bit), Holly performs as Enya in a popular British TV show, Stars in Their Eyes Kids, playing and singing “Orinoco Flow” (You can see her practise for the show - watch on to the end!). Along with millions of British TV viewers Enya watches the show, and writes to say how much she enjoys Holly’s performance.
Practise for first British TV appearance, on Stars in Their Eyes Kids, aged 14/15. (Sorry that the TV recording is well out of synch with the audio. It was Holly singing live, over a prerecorded vocal backing - which was also her!)
2007. Aged 16 (and a bit), Holly discovers YouTube. She sets up the memorably-named Alpet07 site (forgotten it already? It's www.youtube.com/alpet07 ). A cover of Hallelujah is the very first video she uploads. Her production skills at this time are a little bit challenged, shall we say, but the sound itself is great. Many YouTube viewers obviously agree – after sixty thousand views and counting the video is still 5-star rated.
Where it all began: fuzzy cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah
During 2007 Holly's YouTube channel becomes increasingly popular as viewers recognise the quality of her work - between them Holly's videos have now attracted well over a million views, and the main channel page has been viewed more than 200,000 times..
After Hallelujah, videos follow in quick succession. On most of these Holly sings and performs all the music, on some she creates the musical arrangements, on a few she writes the lyrics. By November 2007, when Holly reaches her 17th birthday, she has already created many remarkable videos. During 2007 Holly also spends time on her other hobbies, poetry and art - some of her poems and some of her songs have an almost interchangeable lyrical quality.
January to July 2008 A wonderfully creative seven month YouTube collaboration with talented lyricist Rob Burcham leads to the release of a rapid succession of highly-rated songs, among them the superb Celtic ballad “Claddagh Ring”, the stirring “Iceni Queen”, the charming "Let Your Heart Fly", and the very different “I Welcome The Night” (which Holly now finds a little embarrassing- it's the gloves, you know - so please do watch it and comment!) The collaboration ends with the soaringly uplifting “Shine On”.
I Welcome The Night (Sorry Holly, couldn't resist!)
During the same period many great cover songs are produced, among them a superb “Dante’s Prayer” and the nostalgic “Who Knows Where The Time Goes”. (If you want to risk seeing what Holly’s family looks like, that’s the one to watch!) Also, in March, Holly sings on "Silent Seas", an appeal to save the whales, with lyrics by Pete Sandford and music based on "Fields of Gold" by Sting.
In May 2008 Holly takes a brief break from schoolwork to record what has to be one of the best versions of “Last Unicorn”.
Is this the best ever version of "Last Unicorn"?
During Spring 2008 Holly also morphs into an "Oily Woit Girl" with an odd problem: "I've got Alans falling off me". Strangely, Holly, like Oily Woit Girl, is a great fan of Alan Rickman. (I would say "somebody has to be", but I prefer to keep on living...)
August to October 2008. Holly begins the acclaimed Simple Series, a collection of songs for which she writes the music and lyrics, plays the instruments, sings, and, to top it all, does the musical and video production. The first of the series “I Live Through The Song” sets a very high standard. Subsequent releases such as “A Woman You Don’t Know” are equally highly-rated. She also finds time to sing on "Private Dreams", a YouTube collaboration with Rob Elliott and Tom Simanek.
I Live Through The Song
Holly also enters – and wins – a national competition to sing on-stage with Amy MacDonald.
November to December 2008. Holly reaches her 18th birthday, having already created around 60 videos, and many other songs. instrumentals and other musical compositions not (yet) on YouTube. Holly enters a competition to appear at the world-famous Isle of Wight Festival, and qualifies from her heat in a public vote (unfortunately she was unable to play at the semi-final due to a brief but poorly timed illness, but she was later invited to perform at a venue at the festival).
During 2009 the interest in Holly from the public and music industry professionals continues to grow. Up until June 18th Holly concentrates primarily on studying very hard for her final school exams, although she does play a couple of live gigs - one of them at the Kashmir tent at the Isle of Wight Festival!
After Holly's final exam is completed, she begins a musical gap year - she has accepted a place studying "Creative Music Technology" at Surrey University starting Autumn 2010, where, in the words of the course, she will learn from leading industry practitioners including Oscar, Emmy and BAFTA winners.
In October 2009 Michael Boyce of YouTrax.TV interviewed Holly Kirby, and also Emily Harder of Canada. Click on the video above to watch.
During 2010 Holly records and launches her first Album, A Woman You Don't Know, before a sellout audience, and is booked to appear at a whole series of festivals and public and private events throughout the spring and summer, including the Isle of Wight Festival, Bestival, the Wickham Festival , FolkStation and the Ventnor Fringe Festival. She also performs at a very posh/fashionable birthday party in Mayfair, London, and at many other private and public gigs. See Holly's photos page and news page for pictures and more information on recent and planned events.
During the 2010/2011 academic year Holly intends to work very hard on studying her University course, developing her musical talents further, practising, writing and recording more songs, and performing live gigs at every opportunity, while still creating and uploading videos that demonstrate the incredible breadth of her talents...