Holly’s earliest musical memories are of her parents’ record collection. She spent many afternoons assembling puzzles and quietly humming along to the music of Thelonious Monk, Joe Henderson, Billie Holiday, Al Jarreau, Blood, Sweat and Tears, James Taylor and Steely Dan. Strong middle and high school music programs in Wisconsin exposed her to the greats in jazz–instrumental and vocal–as well as introducing her to what would become a lifelong fascination: Brazilian music.
Holly earned the Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies from Western Michigan University in 2000. In 1996-8, she performed and toured with the music department’s award-winning vocal jazz ensemble Gold Company, including the release of the group’s 2000 release While We’re Young. Her debut album the Climb was released in 2001 including Brazilian songs, jazz standards, and modern instrumental jazz compositions for which Holly penned lyrics to Wayne Shorter’s “Fee Fi Fo Fum” and Pat Metheny’s delicate ballad “The Road to You.”
In 2008, Holly she was the first vocalist to earn a degree in Jazz Performance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she completed her Masters. While there, Holly was the featured vocalist for two University of Illinois CD releases in 2008, the U of I Concert Jazz Band’s As of Yet and the U of I Latin Jazz Ensemble’s The Art of the Dance. Also in 2008, Holly traveled to Brazil to appear as a guest vocalist of composer Robson Santos on his album Límbico Trem produced by singer-guitarist-composer Filó Machado.
In 2010, Holly released her second album entitled Bossa Nuevo acting as the vocalist in the band of the same name. The group’s name is a play on words reflecting their two sources of repertoire–Brazilian bossa nova and Argentinean tango nuevo. Holly has performed abroad in Canada, Belgium, France, Brazil and the UK as well as for the International Association of Jazz Education conference in 1997 (Chicago) and 2008 (Toronto).