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About Mel Holder

New York-based saxophonist Mel Holder makes uplifting contemporary gospel-jazz that also finds him weaving in R&B, African, and Caribbean sounds. Emerging in Brooklyn in the late '90s, Holder's brand of music ministry came to wider recognition with his 2008 Stellar Award-nominated Music Book, Vol. 1. Along with recording for a bevy of reggae, R&B, and Christian artists including Sister Carrol, Niki Phillips, and Gary Anglin, he has continued to issue his own albums like the Top 20 Billboard gospel-jazz album Back to Basics: Music Book, Vol. II.

Born in Queens, New York to a Christian family of Panamanian descent, Holder overcame asthma in his youth to pursue his dream of playing the saxophone. After high school, he honed his craft studying at Miami Dade College, during which time he also performed regularly at clubs in Miami Beach. However, he eventually had to return to Brooklyn where the climate better suited his asthmatic condition. There, along with his continued music pursuits, he further connected to his faith, being mentored by Pastor Nellie Leakey and her son Ronnie Leakey, Jr. as well as Minister B. Courtney McBath. Along the way, Holder also studied evangelism at United Christian College, and gained further spiritual guidance working with Dr. A.R. Bernard at the Christian Life Center (aka Christian Cultural Center).

Combining his faith and love of music, Holder has released several spiritually inclined albums including Now & Forever (1999), Gift So Special (2005), and the Stellar Award-nominated Music Book, Vol. 1 (2008). He has also earned accolades for his session work, including picking up a Grammy nomination for his contribution to Sister Carrol's 1996 album Lyrically Potent and a 2009 Dove Award nomination. In 2015, Holder's follow-up, Back to Basics: Music Book, Vol. II, charted in the Top 20 of both the Billboard gospel and jazz albums charts. Music Book, Vol. 3: Magnificent arrived in 2019. ~ Matt Collar

Queens, New York, NY