Charlotte Holloman
VHFP Visionary

Born on March 24, 1922 in Washington, DC

Opera Singer, Broadway Performer, Educator

Charlotte Wesley Holloman was born on March 24, 1922 in Georgetown, Washington D.C., into a loving, educated and musical family. She is the daughter of Florence Louise Johnson Wesley, an English teacher and socialite, of Baltimore, Maryland and Charles Harris Wesley, an accomplished historian and minister of Louisville, Kentucky. She had one sibling, a sister named Louise Johnson Wesley.

Mrs. Holloman began her elementary studies at Miners Teacher’s College. However, she spent her third grade year in London, England at Regents Park Public Elementary School and the Guildhall School of Music as a result of her father receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship for historical research there. Mrs. Holloman next attended Garnett Patterson Junior High School and graduated from Dunbar High School in 1937.

Mrs. Holloman entered Howard University at the age of fifteen and continued her studies in piano, which she had initiated at the age of three. An unexpected encounter with Professor Todd Duncan during her senior year introduced her to the world of classical voice and established a lifelong mentorship between her and Duncan. Mrs. Holloman had her premier voice recital at Howard University to fulfill a graduation requirement during the spring of her senior year. Despite the nervousness she faced singing in front of her parents for the first time, she discovered a new interest in singing.

Mrs. Holloman was a soror in the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, and was awarded two titles while in college; Homecoming Queen and Miss Collegiate America. Mrs. Holloman graduated cum laude from Howard University with a Bachelor of Music.

Mrs. Holloman held several different occupations after graduating including employment with the Federal Government, as a teacher of various grade levels in Philadelphia and New York City, and as head of operations in her husband’s private medical practice among others. Meanwhile, she kept up her musical talents.

In November of 1950, she appeared in her first Broadway role at the Broadhurst Theater in the Langston Hughes-Jan Meyerowitz musical drama The Barrier which was based on Mulatto. She has also worked closely with Noble Sissle, Eubie Blake, and Flournoy Miller in their revival of the musical comedy Shuffle Along in May of 1952. She appeared in Charles Friedman’s musical play My Darlin’ Aida at the Winter Garden Theater in New York City from October of 1952 through January of 1953.

The lyric soprano had her first official voice debut at her Town Hall recital in New York City on February 25, 1954, which received favorable reviews from the New York Times. In October of 1955, she landed a television appearance as a singer in Harry Belafonte’s vocal chorus for the song Will His Love Be Like His Rum? She once worked in Harlem singing background vocals for James Brown.

Mrs. Holloman earned her Master of Arts in Voice and Music Education from Columbia University. She toured in concert with Margaret Bonds and Todd Duncan in the U.S. and the Bahamas, singing excerpts from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Their concert in Bermuda had the first interracial audience in the island’s history.

Mrs. Holloman was the featured soloist with the Dayton Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, and at The Berkshire Music Festival. She was a cast member in the road company of Carmen Jones.

In 1961 she received the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation Grant to pursue voice studies with top instructors in Europe. She was contracted by the Saarbruecken and Essen Opera Companies in Germany. She established a repertoire of 22 leading roles through her creation of major operatic characters in more than 13 operas in Germany, England and Italy.

This interview has
been archived in the
NVLP Collection of
African American
Oral Histories at the
Library of Congress
American Folklife
The coloratura received operatic distinction for her performances in The Magic Flute starring as the Queen of the Night and the First Lady simultaneously – a first. She was also credited for her roles Tosca, Nabucco, Aulis, Andrea Chenier, Hansel und Gretel, Das Rheingold, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, San Domingo, Moll Flanders and Madama Butterfly.

Mrs. Holloman was happily married to Dr. John S. Holloman for twenty seven years and they have one daughter named Charlotte. Mrs. Holloman has been a vocal instructor at CUNY Lehman College, Catholic University, Northern Virginia Community College and University of District of Columbia.

She currently resides in Washington, D.C. and is the Coordinator of Vocal Area and a Lecturer of voice in the Department of Music at Howard University. She maintains a full private voice studio from her home. Her teaching career has spanned over twenty-five years. She remains a gifted pianist and has produced outstanding students.



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