Holly’s research interests include regionalism, politics and identity in Brazilian popular music. Other research interests include music as propaganda and protest, and American music, especially jazz and blues.
In 2003, Holly traveled to Brazil as guest vocalist of a student and alumni jazz quintet representing Western Michigan University. The success of the tour inspired her to take a research trip to Brazil, and, in June 2004, Holly was awarded an Emerging Artist Grant by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo. She spent six months living with Brazilian families in Salvador and Belo Horizonte studying Portuguese language and bossa nova guitar.
Holly is currently completing her PhD in Musicology as a student of Thomas Turino and Jeffrey Magee. Her dissertation will focus on the musical collective called the Clube da Esquina from the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, that included Milton Nascimento, Toninho Horta, Lô and Márcio Borges and Beto Guedes among other luminaries of MPB [música popular brasileira]. She received a Fulbright Research Fellowship to complete ten months of fieldwork in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in 2011. She completed two months of pre-dissertation fieldwork during the summer of 2010 thanks to the generosity of the Tinker Summer Field Research Grant fund.