Friday, June 20, 2014


The Lost Art of Hollerin’

    Hollerin’ is considered by some to be the earliest form of communication between humans. It is a traditional form of communication used in rural areas before the days of telecommunications to convey long-distance messages. Evidence of hollerin’, or derivations thereof such as yodeling or hunting cries, exists worldwide among many early peoples and is still be practiced in certain societies of the modern world. In one form or another, the holler has been found to exist in Europe, Africa and Asia as well as the US. Each culture used or uses hollers differently, although almost all cultures have specific hollers meant to convey warning or distress. Otherwise hollers exist for virtually any communicative purpose imaginable -- greetings, general information, pleasure, work, etc. The hollers featured at the National Hollerin’ Contest typically fall into one of four categories: distress, functional, communicative or pleasure.

    Within the US, particularly the Southeast, folklore researchers have found the practice of hollerin’ to be present primarily among traditionally black communities. Although hollerin’ is rarely found to have survived in white communities, many folklorist believe it to have once been widespread throughout the region and practiced by both whites and blacks alike. Oddly, in Sampson County, North Carolina, the reverse of the norm is true; while hollerin’ has continued to live on in white localities, there is little or no evidence of its existence among the black population.

    Although similarities abound -- particularly in sound, hollerin’ as defined by the Spivey’s Corner contest, is not the same thing as yodeling or other farm or hunting calling. Rather, it is viewed, at least by Sampson County natives, as an art form to be taken seriously. Its roots, however, can be traced back to the men working on rafts in the 1700s, when logs were transported from Sampson County via its many rivers and streams to Wilmington. The loggers operating the rafts hollered back and forth to one another about their rafts so that they wouldn’t run into each other, or so that if stuck, others would come to their aid. The tradition has survived since its colonial origins.
    The “trademark” holler of Sampson County, NC is one considered unique because of its virtuoso rendering. This holler “consists primarily of rapid shifts between natural and falsetto voice within a limited gapped scale” and the typical melodic movement “consists simply of alterations between the first, third and fifth of the scale” so that the voice is “employed almost as a musical instrument.”

Types of Hollers

    The hollers native to Sampson County can be classified in one of the following groups:

Distress hollers: In many ways, hollers were essential in rural communities; they notified others within hearing range of imminent danger or brought assistance to otherwise isolated farmers when needed. In the past, locals say, hollers have helped locate lost children, saved drowning men, and even ended house fires. “There was just as much a need of hollerin’ as there was of eatin’ at that day and time,” says 1971 Hollerin’ Champion, Leonard Emanuel. Distress hollers are typified by a falsetto tone and sense of urgency.

Functional hollers: These are the hollers used in day-to-day life on the farm or in the field. Each farmer or rancher had his own distinctive hollers to bring in this hogs, cattle, sheep or dogs. This was particularly useful when farmers’ animals grazed common land. A farmer could round up his hogs with his unique holler without disturbing any of his neighbors’ hogs. This is also the type of holler used each morning to let nearby farmers know that one was up and about, as well as by women to call home their families from the fields at the end of the day.

Examples of The Different Types of Hollers'

Communicative hollers: “Howdy neighbor” is the main purpose of these cries. Ermon Godwin explains: “A man working alone in a field might holler just to hear a reassuring answer from his neighbor in the next field a mile or two away” . Women also frequently used this form of holler.

Expressive hollers: Some hollers are voiced purely for pleasure’s sake -- they are known as expressive hollers. Often, this is a hollered version of a popular tune or melody and serves no purpose other than of entertainment. Many of the contest champions have won using expressive hollers, particularly in recent years. Even North Carolina's Agriculture Commissioner Jim Graham gets into the act with a hollerin' impression of a mule. You won't believe the Duet, but my favorite is the Quartet rendition of "Amazing Grace."

History ofThe National Hollerin’ Contest (1969-present)

    Every year, on the third Saturday of June, in an otherwise sleepy borough of southeastern North Carolina known as Spivey’s Corner (population 49), some 5,000-10,000 folks gather from far and wide to take part in the festivities and entertainment in the day-long extravaganza known as the National Hollerin’ Contest.
    You may have heard of the contest -- since its inception in 1969, the contest has garnered attention and fame throughout both the country and the world. The contest and its winners have been featured on television shows such as The Tonight Show and Late Night with David Letterman, in magazines with worldwide circulations such as Stars and Stripes and Sports Illustrated, and have even been the subject of documentary films, featured on The Voice of America, and mentioned in television sports commentaries.


America has a fascination with famous celebrities.  America has a captivation with ghosts and ghost stories as well.  So it's just natural that, even after a superstar dies, we're not ready to let go of them.  Maybe they're not ready to move onto the Next World either.  If you want to know where you may get a glimpse of your favorite star, find out about there famous celebrities who still haunt America.

Mariyln Monroe

   While at her home, this "sex goddess" from the 1950's, took an overdose of sleeping pills on August 4, 1962.  She lapsed into a coma, and never regained consciousness.  Marilyn Monroe was pronounced dead on August 5, 1962.
   Today, her ghost is said to still haunt the Brentwood house where she died at.  You can still see Marilyn Monroe's image in a mirror at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard too.  Monroe often stayed at that hotel when her career was its hottest.  The full-length mirror used to be located in her suite by the swimming pool.  It's since been moved to the lobby where people report seeing her image in it.

Lucille Ball

   Another one of the famous celebrities who still haunts America is the beloved Lucille Ball.  This comedic actress starred in numerous films, as well as in her own successful TV show, "I Love Lucy", in the 1950's.  Ball was 77 years old when she died on April 26, 1989 during surgery.
   Ever since then, the ghost of Lucille Ball reportedly haunts her former home at 100 North Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills, California.  There are accounts of strange happenings in the home, such as broken windows, haunting voices and furniture and other items moving around the house.

Orson Welles

   Orson Welles will long be remembered as one of the most talented writers,  actors and producers in Hollywood history.  His brilliant career ended when the portly man died from a heart attack in his home in Hollywood, California on October 10, 1985.  Welles was 70 years old.
   If you visit Sweet Lady Jane's Restaurant in Los Angeles, you might get to see Orson Welles, a famous celebrity who still haunts America.  During his life, the 8360 Melrose Avenue address belonged to a restaurant called "Ma Maison".  The eatery was known for its tasty food and its rich desserts.  Welles enjoyed fine dining and he often ate there.  He even had a favorite table.
   It's believed the ghost of Orson Welles has been seen sitting at that same table after his death.  Along with eating fine foods, he had a passion for brandy and cigars.  Some of the restaurant staff and customers have reported smelling brandy  and cigar smoke when he's been seen.


   Born "Walter Valentino Liberace", but known as simply "Liberace" by his adoring fans, this famous celebrity died on February 4, 1987.  He was 68 years old.  Liberace was known for his remarkable piano talents.  He will also be remembered as the man who loved to dazzle his audiences with the numerous diamonds he wore.
   Since Liberace's death, his ghost has been reported to have taken up residence at Caruccio's Tivoli Gardens.  He had owned the restaurant, and had a private lounge there he entertained his dearest friends.  The ghostly reportings include bottles that fall over, restroom locks that mysteriously lock and unlock, and unexplained power outages.  One year on May 16th, the electricity at the restaurant suddenly shut off.  The story goes that nothing could be found wrong with it.  Finally, one of the staff realized it was Liberace's birthday.  They wished him a "Happy Birthday", and the power was restored.

Harry Houdini

   During his life, Harry Houdini was Known as a top-rate magician and escape artist.  But, on October 31, 1926, this famous celebrity wasn't able to escape the final grips of death...or did he?  Houdini had a keen interest in the occult.  Before he died, he promised his wife Bess he would come back from "the other side" and contact her.
   Today, the ghost of Harry Houdini can reportedly be seen haunting the property which is located at 2398 Laurel Canyon Boulevard in  Hollywood.  This address is where his house was formerly located.  The house burned down in 1959.

John Lennon

   Singer/songwriter  John Lennon is another famous celebrity who still haunts America.  Up to his death, this former "Beatle" made his home at The Dakota Building, 1 West 72nd Street, in New York City.  On December 8, 1980, a crazed fan named Mark Chapman shot Lennon to death as he was walking into the apartment building.
   Since that time, it's reported that John Lennon's ghost can be seen walking up and down the halls of the building.