Jerry Blavat takes audiences for a walk down memory lane on Jan. 25 at the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall. He will celebrate the “Great Voices of the ‘60s” with musical acts including Bobby Rydell, Jay Black, Gary U.S. Bonds, Pat Upton of Spiral Staircase, Jay Siegel‘s Tokens, and Philly resident Eddie Holman.
Originally from New York, Holman says he owes all that he is to his mother, who recognized her young son’s musical abilities early on. “I began singing in the church when I was just two. And when I was ten she took me to the Apollo Theater, where I sang and won Amateur Night.”
That victory opened many other doors for the boy with the smooth tenor voice. Soon Holman was performing at theaters on Broadway and even at Carnegie Hall. But ever on the lookout for her son and what was best for him, Holman’s mother enrolled him at the Victoria School of Music in Harlem, where he learned the technical craft of music. In 1962, he made his first record.
As a teen, Holman moved with his family to Philadelphia, and he acknowledges that it was in the Philadelphia soul scene that he began to develop his trademark style. While still in college at Cheyney State University, he had his first hit, “This Can’t Be True.” More hits followed. But after singing with the Philly groups The Delfonics and The Stylistics, Holman finally struck personal gold in 1970 with his ballad “Hey There Lonely Girl.”
He said,, “I didn’t know that even after all these years people would be singing that song around the world, but I knew it would be a big hit. It’s just a feeling that you get when something is unique and one-of-a-kind. Other tenors sang that song but there’s only one tenor in the world with a voice like mine.”
And, he adds, he never gets tired of performing that song. “It’s still as challenging and enjoyable as it was 44 years ago. What made it special then is still special to me today.”
A father of three, Holman is also an ordained Baptist minister who uses his music as a tool to encourage togetherness in families. He says he recognizes his talent as a gift form his creator, and feels an obligation and an indebtedness to use his abilities, musical and otherwise.
“I started singing in the church, and here I am again coming full circle,” he said. “And on my 50th birthday seven years ago, I was honored at the Apollo as a Living Legend. So another ‘full circle’ event that made me very proud.”
Today, Holman owns his own record label and music publishing company. He also works as a local community volunteer, helping to reach out to those less fortunate, and works within the Philadelphia school system encouraging young people to become involved in the performing arts.
“I feel blessed to be able to share whatever I can with others,” Holman concluded. “I also feel very blessed to still be working and have the voice that just seems to grow better and better.”
For times and ticket information, call (215) 893-1999.