National Holidays and events happening 30 January

  • National Croissant Day
  • National Escape Day
  • School Day of Non-Violence and Peace

Yodel for Your Neighbors Day

Yodel for Your Neighbors Day takes place annually on January 30th. Yodeling is a form of singing which involves repeated and rapid changes of pitch between the low-pitch chest register (or “chest voice”) and the high-pitch head register or falsetto. The English word yodel is derived from the German (and originally Austro-Bavarian) word jodeln, meaning “to utter the syllable jo” (pronounced “yo” in English). It was used by German, Austrain and Bavarian Shepherds in the Alps who yodeled to communicate with others long distances away, and to round up cattle and Alpine yodeling was a longtime rural tradition in Europe.

The first written record of yodeling dates to 1545. African tribes such as the Pygmy and Bantu, as well as others, historically used yodeling in their songs, and still do today. Yodeling is also an important part of European folk music, particularly in Switzerland, Austria, and Southern Germany. Sir Walter Scott wrote in his June 4, 1830, journal entry: “Anne wants me to go hear the Tyrolese Minstrels but…I cannot but think their yodeling…is a variation upon the tones of a jackass.” In Europe, yodeling is still a major feature of folk music (Volksmusik) from Switzerland, Austria, and southern Germany and can be heard in many contemporary folk songs, which are also featured on regular TV broadcasts.

Yodeling was likely introduced to America by German immigrants in Pennsylvania in the early 1800s. In the 1840s, the Tyrolese Minstrels of Austria traversed the United States, turning the country on to Alpine music. Throughout the 1840s, other singing groups from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria traveled the country and featured yodeling. American family singing groups in the same tradition were soon created, most notably the Hutchinson Family Singers. Traveling minstrel shows of nineteenth century soon embraced yodeling. Some notable groups were the Christy’s Minstrels and Dan Emmett’s Virginia Minstrels. Not only was yodeling featured in traveling shows, but it was recorded as well. L.W. Lipp recorded for Thomas Edison at his Phonograph Company in New Jersey in the 1890s. By 1905, black yodelers were singing and touring the country; notable singers were Monroe Tabor, Beulah Henderson, and Charles Anderson. Lottie Kimbrough was a country blues singer who sang and recorded from 1924 to 1929. She collaborated with Winston Holmes, who yodeled on her records.

A blind singer from Georgia, Riley Puckett, is seen as being the first to record a country record that featured yodeling; he recorded “Rock All Our Babies to Sleep” in 1924, and it became one of the biggest hits of the year. Emmett Miller was another yodeler of the 1920s; he recorded “Lovesick Blues,” which was later covered by Hank Williams. The most famous yodeler of the era was Jimmie Rodgers. Known as “The Singing Brakeman”, Rodgers blended cowboy music, hobo music, and the blues into his songs. He released “Blue Yodel No. 1 (T For Texas)” in February of 1928, and it sold over a million copies. His “Blue Yodel No. 9,” released in 1930, featured Louis Armstrong on trumpet. Collectively, his thirteen “Blue Yodel” songs started a craze for yodeling songs in the United States. Both black and white musicians began to copy Rodgers. This popularity lasted throughout the 1940s, but yodeling in country western music lost popularity in 1950s.

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