After she graduated from CalArts, several companies Holmes applied to responded by saying that women were not hired for touring. Full stop. Often, she says, women, Holmes included, typically ended up doing lighting. “I kept trying to get on the audio crew and finally got my employer to understand I preferred audio. And I was very fortunate I’d made friends with the guys from Delicate and that they gave me the opportunity to do Lollapalooza.”
That said, throughout her career Holmes’ positivity has been tested – sometimes by the casual cruelty of others, but also by just plain inappropriate behavior. “But when I feel I’m being tested I’ll hold my ground. I’ll be confident and stay confident,” she says. “I still have situations like that, although I don’t think it has anything to do with my gender. It’s just somebody trying to test how well I’ll hold my ground.”
It’s fair to say those doing the testing will discover that holding her ground is something Holmes is very adept at. “Absolutely,” she says. “I had to be very stubborn and not get discouraged. I’m positive that every woman in our industry, and every professional woman, likely has some story (or many stories) about an awkward moment that made them question what they were doing or why.”
Accentuating The Positive
For her part, Holmes never questioned her career choice, but those experiences definitely informed her insistence on treating everyone she works with, in any capacity, with respect and encouragement, which brings us back to Murphy, and dogs in general. She notes that they can be somewhat easier to love than people right off the bat “because,” she asserts, “and I say this often, the reason we love dogs so much is that you get what you give, instantly.”
Granted, the equation as applied to pooches is fairly basic (i.e., a biscuit and a head scratch usually prompts instant joy). But the same principles, with humans, go a long way to nurturing positive relationships and mutually beneficial results. “If I’m helpful, kind, calm and compassionate with somebody, I’m going to get that in return,” she says.
Rather than test others, Holmes prefers to inspire and educate. “I try to help people understand their value and help them to hold their ground when they’re asking for something they want from somebody they work for, for example.” That doesn’t mean being unfailingly positive: “It can just be helping them understand that the situation they’re in actually isn’t accelerating their career; that it’s holding them back.”
While she no longer tours and doesn’t miss constantly moving from one place to another, she still travels enough to get her fix of the camaraderie and positive experiences touring offers. “I do sales all over the world and sell jobs out of all of our four offices,” she notes. “So I do catch the beginnings, or some dates of the tours we have out. And I travel more for some specific clients. But I don’t mix or tech now. If I had to jump in I could help, but I’m not an engineer anymore, so it would be a rough show,” she says, laughing again.
Rather, Holmes acts as an advocate for the event overall, bridging the gap between artists, production crew, event managers and clients. “Trying to help everybody have a successful event, one where nobody feels compromised.” Among the annual shows she cites as some of her favorites are the NARAS Pre-Grammy Gala, which she’s been a part of for more than 15 years, and benefit concerts including Stars and Strings and We Can Survive.
“I’m in a great position,” Holmes concludes. “I have opportunities to help people grow technically, to show them they can do more, to help both the people I work with and the people I refer for work to achieve their goals and see their future clearly. That’s one of my greatest joys and more my goal than anything else – to keep fueling everybody’s passion for doing this. I just love creating opportunities for people in any way that I can.