He was one of the “behind the scenes” people in the music business, but Norman Holland, says his friend Mark Lowry, was much more than that.
“He was the platform on which a lot of others have stood,” adds the star Southern Gospel singer/comic of Holland, who died Mar. 10, at 54, due to heart failure.
Holland had served a "Who’s Who" of Southern Gospel music as VP of A&R at Daywind Records in Hendersonville, Tenn. Among the many artists he worked with were Lowry, Greater Vision, The Perrys, Legacy Five, the Booth Brothers, Brian Free and Assurance, The Nelons, Karen Peck and New River, the Mark Trammell Quartet, Sisters and Barbara Fairchild.
He was recognized for his tremendous impact on the Southern Gospel genre in 2012 with the Southern Gospel Music Guild’s lifetime achievement award.
“He started a lot of careers in Southern Gospel music, and mothered those artists,” Lowry continues. “He found the great songs and took the midnight calls.”
And he was a huge fan of the music, notes Lowry, whose observations were echoed throughout the Southern Gospel scene, most notably by the Crabb Family’s Kathy Crabb Hannah in her Mar. 13 blog post.
“I suppose the music will live on, and the events will happen, the records will be made, the songs will be written,” wrote Hannah. “But I am here to declare this to all of you. Everything that transpires in SG Music will have the handprint of Norman all over it. He is the reason many artists had success, he was the key man to put together so, so many special events.”
“The music of Southern gospel has been better because of his talent to make a business feel like a family,” Hannah added, quoting one of Holland’s pronouncements: “No one wins if everyone doesn’t win!”
Lowry recalls first meeting Holland in 1988 at the start of Lowry's first stint with the Gaither Vocal Band.
“[Fellow Band member] Michael English kept saying ‘Norman Holland, Norman Holland, Norman Holland,’ and telling stories about him,” says Lowry. “I didn’t have a clue who he was, but I wanted to meet him. When I finally met this six-foot, eight-inch Goliath of a man, he was hysterical, and country to the bone.”
When Lowry went solo, Holland often went on the road with him.
“He was opinionated, and wouldn’t lie to you,” says Lowry. “A lot of artists and preachers and evangelists surround themselves with yes-men, but he told you what he thought--which is important. And what a loving person, caring person! Everybody who knew him loved him, and you can’t say that about a lot of people.”
“It’s a great loss for all of us.”
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