Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Journal & Guide Online: 'Ches. highway marker honors Free Black' Justin Holland

Justin Holland, featured at, was honored by unveiling of the above historical marker on May 2, 2013 by the Norfolk County Historical Society of Chesapeake, Virginia
(Photo: New Journal & Guide Online)

Dr. Ella P. Ward is a Council Member 
of the City of Chesapeake, Virginia

Wednesday 22 May 2013
By Dr. Ella P. Ward
Special to the New Journal and Guide
    Chesapeake City Council and the Norfolk County Historical Society  unveiled the VDHR Highway Marker WP-13 on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at the corner of George Washington Highway and Shell Road. This historic marker for Justin Holland is the first marker for an African American and for any individual in the city of Chesapeake. Justin Holland, a world renowned classical musician, arranger, and teacher of the guitar and guitar pedagogy, was born a free African in America in Norfolk County (now Chesapeake) on May 19, 1819. Holland published over 300 arrangements and two books that were the premier guitar method for instruction books all over the world for more than 50 years.

     Holland discovered a songbook of words and began creating his own tunes to sing at the age of 8. After the death of both of his parents, Holland, at age 14, left Virginia for Boston, Massachusetts because of its reputation as a city of artistic culture and a city where people of color were faced with fewer obstacles to gaining an education than in Virginia. Holland applied and was accepted at the prestigious Oberlin Collegiate Institute in Ohio in 1841 where he studied and perfected the guitar.

     He also studied and spoke fluently Spanish, Italian, and French. Holland created Holland’s Comprehensive Method for the Guitar instruction book for students and a second smaller text titled Holland’s Modern Method. Both works were acclaimed by critics in New York as the best works of musical instruction that had ever been produced in America or Europe.
Resource: Norfolk County Historical Society Unveiling  Ceremony.

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