A MUSICAL LEGACY:  Mrs. Mayme Wikins Holt, the mother of the late baritone Ben Holt has died at the age of 101 after many years of supporting and nurturing countless musical artists.

by Patrick D. McCoy

The life of beloved supporter of the arts Mayme Holt will be celebrated at Washington, DC’s Takoma Park Baptist Church on Friday, February 16 at 11 am.  Mrs. Holt will forever be remembered for her loving care and nurture of scores of professional musical artists.

From Her Full Obituary:

Mrs. Holt greeting famed mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves following her recital at The Kennedy Center.

Mrs. Holt, a native of Alexandria, Virginia, was a retired teacher of English from the Fairfax County Public School System. In addition to working as an educator for twenty-three (23) years in Fairfax County, she taught for five (5) years at NC A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina. She also served as an Instructor of English at the United States Department of Agriculture Graduate School.

While pursuing a Bachelor degree in Liberal Arts at Howard University, Mrs. Holt studied voice under Carolyn Grant and Louise Burge. Keenly interested in developing her musical talents, she also studied piano through private instruction under Lucille Muse at the Washington Conservatory of Music and School of Expression, located in Washington, DC and established by Harriett Gibbs Marshall and exclusively operated by African American musicians for the advancement of African American education.  Mrs. Holt later earned a Master of Arts degree in English from The Catholic University of America, in DC. She also pursued post-graduate studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey.


Mrs. Holt with her ‘play son’ and mentee Everett P. Williams, Jr after a performance by the Aria Club of Greater Washington.

Believing that working with civic organizations enables one to give service to others, Mrs. Holt was affiliated with several religious, civic and professional organizations including: Takoma Park Baptist Church (58 years of service in many positions including Deacon, Historian and Sunday School Teacher), Zeta Chi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (Pearl Member with 65 years), Luther Jackson High School Alumni Association, The American Association of University Women, National Association of Negro Musicians, Friday Morning Music Club, The Metropolitan Opera Company, Young Concert Artists, and Lois J. Wright Concert Series.

As an early effort, Mrs. Holt actively located young, promising musicians to present to the public by auditioning them to participate in shows and other functions held at the Black History Dinner Theatre at the Takoma Park Baptist Church for several seasons. She guided and mentored many of the talented musicians and other artists whom she discovered.  Over the years, Mrs. Holt ventured in many directions career-wise and broadened her talents, skills and interests. She performed as a vocal concert artist in the Mississippi Delta Region, Norther Virginia and Washington, DC. She shared an early music world with former classmates Lucreza West, contralto (ne` Lucretia Anderson), Lawrence Winters, baritone (ne` Whisonant), and Sarah Copper, soprano and pianist, all students of Mary L. Europe (sister of conductor James Reese Europe). Sarah later married Robert McFerrin, Sr., baritone, the first Black male vocalist accepted to the Metropolitan Opera of New York.


Mrs. Holt at the chartering celebration of the Ben Holt Memorial Branch of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc. at Asbury United Methodist Church in Washington, DC.

For many years, Mrs. Holt has performed and for her sincere interest in helping talented artists, she has received numerous awards. However, she considers her greatest achievement to be in helping others to broaden their talents and careers. Extending this endeavor further, Mrs. Holt founded the Friends of Ben Holt Society, Inc. in 1995 through which she presented aspiring, established, and renowned artists in concert at the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, in Washington, DC. Proceeds from this mission went to the Juilliard School in New York to establish a permanent endowment for the Ben Holt Memorial Scholarship for Students of Voice. Each year, Juilliard selects a deserving student for this award. Many students have been blessed.

Mrs. Holt’s rich contributions to the DC musical fabric and the world will never be forgotten.


On a personal note:  Mrs. Holt was the reason that I came to Washington, D.C. in 2006.  She was indeed a special friend.

View her service held at Takoma Park Baptist Church here:  Music was rendered by violinist Jonathan Jones, pianist Everett P. Williams, Jr., soprano Detra Battle Washington and pianist Nevilla Ottley.


A native of Petersburg, VA, Patrick holds a BM in Vocal Performance from Virginia State University and a MM in Church Music from Shenandoah Conservatory. Formerly the Performing Arts Columnist for Washington Life Magazine, he currently is a freelance writer, publishing articles for several noted publications and organizations, including The Washington Post, Early Music America, Classical Music Voice North America, The Afro-American Newspaper, Prince George’s Suite Magazine, CBS Washington, Examiner.com and Washington Classical Review. He holds membership in the Music Critics Association of North America, National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc., American Choral Directors’ Association, Association of Anglican Musicians, a former member of the Shenandoah University Alumni Board of Directors, a member of the Shenandoah University Black Alumni Network, a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and a member of the Sigma Zeta Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America.  As an alumnus of Shenandoah, he was named to the Dean’s Circle of the Shenandoah Conservatory Advisory Board.  He enters his 7th year as Organist/Choirmaster at Saint John’s Episcopal Church, Zion Parish in Beltsville, MD and is the newly hired Development and Communications Manager for Washington Conservatory of Music in Glen Echo, MD.  Patrick is the host of “Across the Arts” both a live and virtual media platform covering the performing arts.  Visit http://patrickdmccoy.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @PatrickDMcCoy, IG: PDM06. and subscribe to “Across the Arts” on YouTube.