Asheville’s Holler Choir

Left to right, Norbert McGettigan, Helena Rose, Julian Pinelli, Clint Roberts, Bridger Dunnagan, Ryan Stigmon, Evan Martin (Photo by John DuPre)

We owe a debt of gratitude to those who shattered Clint Roberts’ heart and to those who stitched back together the broken pieces left on the dusty floor of his memories. Without the trials of unrequited love and heartache, the immensely gifted singer and musician might have taken a different path. Fortunately, at 29 years old, his chin is up, and he is no longer licking his wounds. However, he has plenty of material in the vault from which to draw inspiration as needed.

For years, the Brevard native has drawn acclaim throughout Western North Carolina for his commanding vocal range, acoustic guitar prowess, and introspective tales of love and loss. As an up-and-coming balladeer and banjoist – before switching to guitar – with his first band, Fox Fire, Roberts honed his skills on the road playing local festivals and gigs out west. By 2021, he was praised as the region’s most promising new artist for his debut effort as a solo artist, “Rose Songs,” earning him well-deserved recognition as a voice and figure to follow.

Left to right, Bridger Dunnagan, Ryan Stigmon, Norbert McGettigan, Clint Roberts, Joey Brown, Helena Rose, Julian Pinelli, Sean Newman (Photo by John DuPre)

In 2022, something extraordinary happened. While recording the widely celebrated five-song EP, “Mountain Air,” at Asheville’s Crossroads Studios, a fortuitous collaboration of roots musicians proved to be the genesis of a distinctive new sound built on that shared experience. Produced by Grammy Award winner Michael Ashworth (Steep Canyon Rangers), Roberts and fellow artists, including Johnson City’s clawhammer banjo sensation Helena Rose, fiddler Bridger Dunnagan, and bassist Norbert McGettigan, formed Holler Choir. What emerged was lightning in a bottle.

The sound and vision of Clint Roberts and Holler Choir defy easy genre classification, evading the confines of folk, Americana, country, or even bluegrass. Though each influence is woven into his work, Roberts’ sound and vision pay homage to the old-time roots of Appalachia while transcending into a singular and remarkable ethos. His creative output reveals an Odysseus-like hero’s journey, suffering the injuries of deceitful rejection and treacherous pitfalls but somehow finding salvation and redemption. Also evident in his approach to creating a record is his affinity for film. “What plays out in my head,” Roberts says, “is a curation of vivid photographs I’m sequencing to create a collage of vignettes that don’t necessarily connect but carry a common theme.”

Left to right, Norbert McGettigan, Clint Roberts, Helena Rose, Ryan Stigmon, Bridger Dunnagan, Julian Pinelli (Photo by John DuPre)

Propelled by the reception of “Mountain Air,” Holler Choir tracked their debut full-length album, “Songs Before They Write Themselves,” in the legendary Church Room at Asheville’s famed Echo Mountain Recording Studio. With Michael Ashworth returning as producer and the talents of sound engineer Jason Richmond (Avett Brothers, Rising Appalachia), and fellow Grammy Award winner Kim Rosen mastering the final product.

The album garnered immediate attention upon its January release, catching the eyes of No Depression, Rolling Stone France, and other leading publications. In short order, Holler Choir was tapped to tour with The Old 97s, gracing legendary stages throughout the western United States. “All I can say is that I am humbled and very grateful,” says Roberts. Going from 200-capacity rooms in the southeast to San Francisco’s Fillmore and The Hotel Congress in Tucson, among other halls of musical lore, was a welcome shock to a band in its infancy.

Clint Roberts and Holler Choir are already well on their way, and it’s just the beginning.

Stream “Songs Before They Write Themselves” on Spotify and Apple Music. Visit for tour dates and information.