DEAF musician James Holt has been praised by the music producer behind legends such as David Bowie and Roxy Music.

The 21-year-old, who wears hearing aids in both ears, was hailed by Brian Eno after scooping a top award at this year’s Noise Festival.

Mr Holt’s track — Whatever happened to John — was picked out by the legendary producer, who called it “brisk, funny and exciting”.

Mr Eno added: “Great drumming. This track feels fresh and exciting to listen to.”

The songwriter, from Smithills, who is professionally trained in piano, guitar and cello, hopes that his award will help inspire other young musicians to believe they can achieve anything — even if they have a disability.

He said: “I can’t explain how pleased I am that Brian Eno, a world-renowned producer, has chosen my song. I am particularly pleased because I recorded and produced the song myself so it is the best reference I can have.

“I was born deaf and I wear hearing aids in both ears but it has not stopped me playing and writing music.”

Mr Holt could play piano, guitar and cello by the age of 13.

The young songwriter also scooped an “outstanding” rating at the festival for another of his songs — I thought you were crying.

Noise Festival is a creative showcase run by the award-winning Noise charity which celebrates the best up and coming talent.

Mr Holt, along with another local winner James Greenhalgh, aged 24, beat thousands of entries and will now have the opportunity to embark on work placements and be mentored by an industry expert. Mr Greenhalgh, from Westhoughton, said: “Knowing that one of your idols is impressed by your work has totally bowled me over.

“I can’t put into words how grateful I am to Brian and Noise for this accolade.”

To listen to Mr Holt’s winning track, go to

James Holt –

James Greenhalgh -