Local singer songwriter Dora Gholson says all she ever wanted to do was sing and be a mom, and she is ever grateful to be doing both here in Key West. Dora grew up in Saline, Michigan and was greatly influenced by her two older sisters who were both very musical. Dora and her sisters would sing together a lot and parody everything from television commercials to pop songs on the radio.
Dora attended high school in Harrison, Michigan where she went on to sing in the choir, but it wasn’t until 1998 when she got her first guitar for Christmas. It was a Sigma guitar, which she still owns. Using a Mel Bay beginner guitar method book, she taught herself to play guitar. The first song she learned was the Beatles’ “Blackbird”. She went on to take classes at Washtenaw Community College where she took lessons with Shari Kane who was known for her blues playing.
When Dora started vacationing in Key West she recalls that each vacation got longer and longer. In March of 1999 she saw Zack Seemiller at Geiger Key and decided right then and there to move to Key West. She started out in Key West as a bar tender while she practiced and pursued music. She tended bar for six years at the now famous clothing optional Garden of Eden bar. She remembers when it was a rooftop with a cooler and a cashbox and how it entered infamy during the MTV Real World filming.
After hundreds of gigs, Dora slowly overcame what she describes as “debilitating stage fright”. She was also helped along by fellow musician Larry Baeder, who selflessly shared information on how to survive being a musician and an artist and how to work for one’s self.
These days Dora can be heard at The Bull on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2-6 and the Grand Key Double Tree on Fridays from 5-8 (sometimes with Larry Baeder). She will be a featured performer at the next Sunday Ramble concert on January 29th 2017 at the Key West Theater (tickets available at www.thekeywesttheater.com).
Dora lives by her sister Cheryl’s mantra: what doesn’t kill you makes you funnier. Her advice to other musicians looking to come to Key West is to do what you are passionate about and nothing bad can happen … oh, and also learn one token Jimmy Buffet song.