(Philadelphia, PA) Ian Holmes started learning piano at the age of two, and has never looked back. After training in classical music for ten years during his childhood, he began to sing professionally at age fifteen. He knew to capitalize on his talents from an early age, thanks to the guidance of his musical family. You may recognize his name from the fourth season of American Idol.
Throughout his childhood, he had many opportunities to develop his talents. He’s been in musical competitions for piano, and has performed various styles from gospel to hip hop.
Between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, was in choir, and sang for church and his family’s gospel group: The Holmes Family, or “OnTime” “Music has always been part of my life, and family.”
He went to school for mass communications at a local university, but he had already been teaching music, by that time.” I was fortunate because others have to go to school to get degrees in certain areas, but since I started teaching at such a young age, the community was was familiar with my background. I directed collegiate choirs and traveled and directed.” He says he has always been fortunate to have opportunities to sing for people.
His musical background led him to try out for the fourth season of American Idol. Though he originally tried out in Cleveland, he did not make it through, until he auditioned in Washington DC. “I sounded horrible” he laughs as he remembers his nervous audition in front of Randy, Paula and Simon. “But they let me through anyway.” One of the show’s producers even sat him down and told him, “That was a horrible audition. You have too much going for you, to get up there and do that. If you do anything like that again, we are cutting you!” From that point on, he made it a point to manage his nerves, and received positive feedback from the judges. “For me, American Idol was a big help.” It allowed him to adjust and grow, so he could do what he believes he is called to do.
Since then, Holmes has devoted his time to performing, teaching and expanding to Spanish-speaking markets. Last year he got a call about the Latin group Camila being interested in his Youtube videos. He has been singing and touring with them this year, for their most recent album, Elypse which was nominated for four Latin Grammys this year.
As mentioned before, Holmes has been teaching vocal music since the age of fifteen. Though he was encouraged to teach piano while he was very young, he did not start with those lessons until he was twenty two. Now, at thirty-eight years old, he is very thankful for the opportunities he has been given.
Holmes has been asked to help in studios all over the country. “It’s interesting. People who ask me to coach them are seasoned, and I say wow, because it’s an honor to be asked!” He works in both Spanish and English markets. He mostly does vocal coaching currently, working with church choirs to help them sing skillfully and with stage presence. he also hosts workshops.
When asked about hardships, Ian was very open with Au’loni and shared his experiences. For example, he began teaching piano at twenty-two. At that time he was also considering leaving his job as a telemarketer. Before leaving the telemarketing business, he remembers having twenty people who tell him that they would pay for his lessons. with this level of support, he ended up quitting his first job, in the hopes of teaching lessons, but “out of the twenty people who said they wanted lessons, only three actually did.” This lack of support caused him to spend the next five months getting back on track.
Ian even shared his difficulty finding housing around his time on American Idol. He was rejected by renters for being African American, and told, “people of your kind don’t deserve something as nice as this.” For awhile, he worked three jobs with nowhere to live. “I had money coming in, but it wasn’t lasting.” He remembers, “American Idol was such a great time but at the same time I didn’t have the material things people thought necessary to live.”
In order to overcome his challenges, Holmes cites his faith. “I learned that whatever happens, God will sustain us so that we can continue to be better people and give back to society. I’ll never forget that.” By the time he was twenty-eight, his circumstances did turn around, and he says, “I’m very thankful for that.” He began living differently. Though he was always pleasant to those he met, he “started actively pursuing doing right by people, purposefully, and not being so passive.” He says, since he made this decision, he has had some of the best eight years of his life!
When asked if he had any advice for those interested in his line of work, he said, “Number one: Make sure you know this is what you want to do, because when the hardships come and there is doubt, you need to be sure.” He also advises others to persevere. “There will be times when you feel like giving up ,or want to stop. You need to know that some people may not be the most friendly to work with, but they may be the right people.”
He added that it is important to, “always be kind and gracious with people – partly because you want kindness back, but also because people need to see others who are not only excellent in their work but who are also kind in their dealings with people.”
In the immediate future, Ian would like to be doing just what he is doing now: touring. “I love singing background vocals and playing keys.” In the long term, he would like to continue with his students and make sure that they have longevity in whatever they want to do, musically. He knows that he wants to continue to teach, and embraces that the manner in which it is done may change, as we continue into the digital age. He envisions online lessons, and is interested in embracing this new style. He wants to help younger generations “do what they want to do, and what they have in their heart to do.” He is passionate about helping people find success, or “make it” in their careers.
Au’loni was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with Ian, and expects to hear great things from him in the future! You can connect with Ian through his website: www.ianholmesmusic.com. You can also find his page on Facebook: Ian Holmes Music.