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Duncan Holmes (with Lucky, his guide dog) takes his spiritual message to churches, homes, schools, and prisons across the country. Locally, Holmes can be heard at the Officers Club, Evangelical Free Church, and area nursing homes. Photo by Phil Houseal

For bookings and more information on Duncan Holmes, call 210-414-5968, or visit www.jgnfriends.com/ministries/duncanholmes.html.

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Duncan Holmes:
Many styles; one message

by Phil Houseal
Oct 18, 2006

You've heard him play hymns in church, rock and roll at festivals, swing at a dance hall, jazz in a lounge, and even show tunes at school.

Duncan Holmes can play the piano in every style with the same aplomb and energy. But the music genre matters less than his musical message.

"The most important thing I want to communicate is that there is more to this life than living and dying, eating and eliminating," Holmes said. "God created us to have a purpose. I want to convey that in my music and what I do in my life. That is why I do what I do. I try to keep that uppermost in my mind every day."

His academic pedigree includes degrees from the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music and the University of North Texas. While in prep school, he formed "The Swingin' Teens" and over the years toured and played at numerous jazz festivals and performance halls, as well as community churches.

Blind from birth, Holmes found inspiration in music at an early age.

"I was fortunate to grow up in a family of music lovers," Holmes said. "We had the radio and record player going all the time."

Holmes remembers the exact moment he decided to make music his career.

"My family took me to listen to Roger Williams when I was in seventh grade," he said. "I had never heard a live, professional pianist before. Right then I knew what I wanted to do."

What he wanted to do was make music "my life and my livelihood."

It was in 1986 that he and his wife, Sharon, were able to turn Fredericksburg from their "great escape" to their permanent home, moving here from Denton.

"I thought 'what is a blind guy going to do in Fredericksburg," he said. "But then I thought, 'what am I doing where I am?'"

So Sharon began teaching kindergarten, and Duncan pursued his music.

Holmes plays regularly at the Evangelical Free Church, and he is sought after around the country to share his message of music and Christian message in churches, schools, and prisons. He also performs at the Hangar Hotel, both solo and with the Barons Creek Boys Quartet.

Holmes is bemused by curiosity about his blindness.

"People must bear in mind not every blind person is a musician," he said. "I know blind people who can’t carry a tune, who may not even like music. I just happen to be a person who is blind and who loves music."

In fact, Holmes' ultimate message transcends the physical world. Even when playing jazz in a lounge, he enjoys slipping in songs with a message of faith, such as Amazing Grace or How Great Thou Art.

"I know not everyone can come to the church," he said. "If I can’t say it I want it to come through in my music. I want them to know from Whom the glory really comes. I try to be as consistent as possible, both playing at the club and at the church. If I can’t say it, I’ll play it."