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Baltimore musician aspires toward dreams and mentors others

Cellist I'yann Holley
provided by and with permission from I'yann Holley

As this writer moves about town, sometimes she hears of the unique talents of young people.Such was the case when she heard of I'yann Holley, an African-American cellist, currently pursuing higher education. Realizing this as a unique talent, this writer was able to secure an interview with Ms.Holley Monday, July 28, 2014. This article is the result of that encounter,

Q1. How do you describe what you do?
A. I am a cellist and jazz singer. I also tutor inner city youth in both math and reading areas. I currently attend Morgan State University majoring in Elementary Education.

Q2. When, why and how did you get started?
A. I started singing in second grade and I started learning cello in third grade at Roland Park Elementary/Middle school with the help of my first music teacher, Ms. Young. I always enjoyed music. My mother exposed me to all genres of music. Music became how I expressed myself and grew to be my passion. It was what helped me through rough patches and it still helps me. I love education and the whole learning experience. I recognized the need for mentors and great teachers in 7th grade when I transferred to Guilford Elementary/Middle school. It was a big culture shock for me coming from Roland Park. Guilford didn't even have a music teacher let alone locks on bathroom stall doors. I've always lived in the inner city but everyone doesn't have a mom or family for that matter like mine. That experience is what motivated me to want to be that glimmer of hope for inner city youth. I want to be a positive example for them. They deserve a voice just like everyone else.

Q3. Who influenced/influences you the most?
A. My influences consist of my entire family and past music teachers. My mother, Brenda Huntley has to be the biggest influence. She is who I often emulate and she is my biggest cheerleader. She sees my potential and pushes me to live up to it.

Q4. Where have you performed?
A. I started performing at Baltimore School for the Arts my 6th grade year when I got accepted into the TWIGS program for cello performance. Then I went on to being accepted into BSA for high school where I performed for four years. I've also performed with a camp called Thrive City String Academy where I traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada to practice and perform.

Q5. What's next for you?
A. I plan to finish my undergraduate and start my own non-profit that will be geared towards exposing inner city youth to the fine arts and correlating that art with African heritage. While doing performing of my own and continuing to get my masters degree in Education.

Q6. Where is your vision for yourself?
A. I see myself starting my non-profit and continuing to educate myself as well as others, working on my craft as a singer and instrumentalist.

Q7. What challenges did you experience in your area of the arts and how do you get beyond them? A. I faced a number of challenges in cello performance. I developed carpal tunnel and tendinitis in both arms and wrists my sophomore year of high school. BSA has a very rigorous program for instrumental music and if I couldn't keep up because of my health, I probably would have had to leave. I kept pushing although I was very discouraged. My emotional connection to my music and instrument is what kept me holding on. Also you don't see a lot of black females playing a string instrument professionally in big orchestras. That being said I have to work a lot harder than most if I want to reach that goal of performing with a professional orchestra.

Q8.` How do you want to be remembered?
A. I want to be remembered as a person with big spirits and passion that always was quick to give and slow to take. I want my efforts in helping people to be noticed and remembered most.

Q9. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. I would tell them to be persistent in working towards their goals. Never give up on a passion. Just work hard and stay focused! There will be many obstacles and that's just life, but your dreams won't work unless you do.

Q10. How can people get in touch with you?
A. My business email is and my personal email is
I'm also on Facebook: I'Yann Holley.

Me: Thank you, I'yann for a great interview and I am sure the world looks forward to hearing more from you in the area of the arts.

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