John and Kathie Hollandsworth are natives of Christiansburg in southwestern Virginia, and have been performing and teaching since the early 1980's, with a repertoire that includes traditional Appalachian music and its many related styles. John has been developing his own autoharp style since childhood, when he became familiar with traditional music through playing with relatives and friends. His playing style incorporates both chromatic and diatonic techniques, and he is highly sought after as a workshop leader and classroom teacher of his style and repertoire. In 2010 he was inducted into the Autoharp Hall of Fame. Kathie sings, plays hammered dulcimer and upright bass, and they are popular performers and clinicians, both in the Virginia/North Carolina region and nationally.

John and Kathie truly enjoy sharing their Appalachian heritage and musical talents with audiences of any sort.  Performances can be tailored to any situation, from short after-dinner concerts that give a taste of our music and history, to full concerts that showcase many kinds of tunes and songs that have grown out of their experiences.

John is a custom luthier of fine Blue Ridge Autoharps, which are now played all over the United States and in several other countries.  In 2010 he was inducted into the Autoharp Hall of Fame for his talents as performer, teacher, and luthier. Kathie serves as the Festival Director for the Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering, held each year in Pennsylvania.


The summary of experience below includes different ways we have taught or performed. We prefer to perform together, even if only one of us is teaching at a festival.

In addition to performing and teaching often in the local area, John and Kathie have appeared at the following regional and national events:


  • Sore Fingers Summer Schools, Kingham, Oxfordshire, England: John has taught week-long autoharp courses there in April 2002, 2012, and 2018, and the duo performed in concert.
  • Autoharp-Themed Cruises, 2004-2018: John teaches workshops and the duo performs in concert on the ships for a travel group of autoharp and dulcimer enthusiasts who travel to various climes in the Caribbean, Alaska, and Europe.


John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, North Carolina:  John has taught a week-long beginning autoharp session most springs since 2000, and many of their Friday night concerts have featured John, Kathie, and their friends through the years.

Augusta Heritage Workshops, Elkins, West Virginia:  John taught week-long Autoharp Old-Time Repertoire classes in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, and 2004; his class regularly fills to capacity. In 2007 and 2010 he was featured during Spring Augusta Week. Kathie has been a Guest Instructor in his class, helping with topics such as vocal backup, playing with others, and music theory, in addition to being a staff band member on bass. The duo has helped lead workshops and jams and performed at the Augusta Festival.

Swannanoa Gathering, North Carolina: Almost every summer since 2006, John has taught well-attended and enthusiastic week-long autoharp classes at two levels during Old-Time Week and the duo has performed in concert.

Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering, Newport, Pennsylvania:  We have been featured performers and workshop leaders in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2010, and 2015, both as a duo and with the band Mountain Fling; John has taught 3-4 workshops each time, and we have made two to three concert appearances each time. John has taught workshops in many other years since 1991, and the duo has appeared on stage almost yearly in invitational concerts. John is an annual vendor at the festival with his line of Blue Ridge Autoharps. Kathie joined the festival's Board of Directors in 2006 and serves as the festival director. John also is one of four luthiers who rotate donating prize autoharps for the prestigious Mountain Laurel Autoharp Championship.

Willamette Valley Autoharp Gathering, Oregon: John was featured autoharpist in 2001, 2007, and 2010, teaching several workshops at this wonderful festival, and Kathie joined him in concert.

Northwest Autoharp Gathering: In 2021, John taught virtual workshops and he and Kathie led a jam and presented an hour-long concert for the virtual festival.

In 2022, John presented a workshop and the duo did a concert for the Scottish Autoharp Club..

Summer Solstice Festival, Calabasas, California:  Featured performers in 1994, 1995, and 2001; John taught several autoharp workshops and the duo performed on the ongoing concert stage. John participated in the autoharp style demonstration.

Cranberry Dulcimer Gathering, Binghamton, New York:  Featured performers in 1992 and 2005; John was featured autoharp workshop leader; Kathie taught hammered dulcimer workshops, and the duo performed in concert.

Autoharp Jamboree, Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View, Arkansas:  In 1992, 2002, 2007, and 2018, John and Kathie were featured performers and workshop leaders.

Chestnut Ridge Dulcimer Festival, Greensburg, Pennsylvania:   In 2001, 2003, and 2005, John and Kathie taught autoharp and hammered dulcimer workshops, respectively, and performed. Mountain Fling was featured in 2001 and 2005.

Winston-Salem Dulcimer Festival, North Carolina:  In 1998, 2000, and 2001 Kathie taught three hammered dulcimer workshops. John was the first autoharpist asked to teach at this festival, providing instruction in 1998, 1999, and 2001. They were featured performers on the main concert in 1998.

Fiddler’s Grove, North Carolina:  John and Kathie have both given well-attended workshops on autoharp and hammered dulcimer, respectively, several times through the years at this regional festival. Both are at least two-time winners of the contests on their respective instruments.

SummerFest, Carthage, Missouri:  Featured performers and workshop leaders in 1997, 1998, and 1999. John taught autoharp workshops and Kathie bass workshops; stage performances each year.

Stringalong Weekend, East Troy, Wisconsin:  John was the autoharp instructor and performer in November of 1996.



Autoharp Hall of Fame: John was inducted to this prestigious group in 2010.

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Folklife Apprenticeship Program: John served as a mentor in 2011-12 to apprentice Sam Gleaves, who built his own autoharp to perform with.

Mountain Laurel Autoharp Championship, Newport, Pennsylvania: In 1991 John was the first champion of this most prestigious autoharp contest.

Walnut Valley Championship, Winfield, Kansas: John was a finalist in the International Autoharp Competition in 1989, his only visit to Winfield.

Galax (Virginia) Old Fiddler’s Convention: John has taken first place in the autoharp contest at Galax nine times since 1991, and has also been named the "Best All-Around Performer" of the convention three of those years, being the only autoharp player ever to win this recognition.  Kathie has won several ribbons on dulcimer through the past several years at Galax, the oldest and largest festival of its kind.

Maury River Fiddler's Convention, Buena Vista, Virginia: John was named "Best Performer" at the annual Rockbridge County Convention in 1994 and again in 1997. Kathie was named "Best All-Around Old-Time Performer" in 2000.

John has won numerous ribbons at many of the other regional "fiddler’s conventions" that are sprinkled throughout the Virginia/North Carolina mountains at places like Elk Creek, Vinton, and Fries, VA, and Mt. Airy, NC.


John has had several articles and musical arrangements published in the Autoharpoholic, Autoharp Quarterly, and Autoharp Clearinghouse, all publications devoted to his instrument. He has served as editor of the Interaction Lesson feature in Autoharp Quarterly. He has been interviewed several times for regional television and newspaper stories.

Contact Information

John and Kathie Hollandsworth, 700 Tower Road, Christiansburg, VA   24073

Phone John directly at 540-392-3924
E-mail John - E-mail Kathie

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