Mayme Wilkins Holt

Ben Holt

Mayme Wilkins Holt, a native of Alexandria, Virginia, is a retired teacher of English from the Fairfax County Public School System.  In addition to work as an educator for twenty-three (23) years in Fairfax County, Mrs. Holt taught for five (5) years at the 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, D. C. and established by Harriett Gibbs Marshall and exclusively operated by African American musicians for the advancement of African American education.

Mrs. Holt later earned the Master of Arts in English degree from The Catholic University of America in D.C.  She also pursued post-graduate studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

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 in Washington, D.C. for several seasons.  She guided and mentored many of the talented musicians and other artists whom she discovered.

Over the years, Mrs. Holt has ventured in many directions career-wise and has broadened her talents, skills and interests. She has performed as a vocal concert artist in the Mississippi Delta Region, Northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C. She shared an early music world with contralto former classmates Lucreza West (né Lucretia Anderson); Lawrence Winters, baritone (nê 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.

For the 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, D. C.  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.