Before the internet, before the telephone, before the telegraph and even before the tom-tom, there was the yodeling, according to Bart Plantenga and his book "Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo: The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World";
Plantenga suggests that yodeling most likely originated in Africa, "at the beginning of mankind, when man decided he could do different things with his voice. More practically, it probably began 10,000 years or so ago, when animals first were domesticated, [as] a way to keep the cattle together. It probably also had to do with people amusing themselves. The Pygmies [still] use it for many things, including feasts and playing. They have this method of singing back and forth between two voices, and it's just pure pleasure at that level."
Did a centuries-old, Swiss mountain tradition make its way into American country music? As his fascinating book reveals; yodeling is not just a Swiss thing - everyone from Central African pygmies, Nashville hunks-in-hats, avant-grade tonsil-twisters like Meredith Monk, hip-hop stars De La Soul, and pop stars like Jewel have been known to kick back and release a yodeling refrain. Along the way, we encounter a gallery of unique characters, ranging from the legendary, such as country singer Jimmie Rodgers, to the definitely different, including Mary Schneider 'the Australian Queen of Yodeling' who specialises in yodeling Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms, and the Topp Twins, a yodeling lesbian duo who employ the sound in their songs aimed at battling homophobia.
Ethel Delaney was born and raised in a small coal mining town in Southern Ohio. People in this rural community had to make their own entertainment, so at an early age (5 years old) Ethel started to learn to play the guitar and began singing all types of songs and yodeling.
The guitar was finally ordered from the catalog and the days were full of anticipation and excitement waiting for its delivery. Yodeling came naturally and living in the beautiful hills of Ohio Ethel was able to yodel as long and as loud as she wanted. She performed whenever she could and did so for all the church socials and school naffairs.
Ethel's first songwriting attempt, "Echo Mountain" was published by B-W Music, recorded at a studio in Cleveland, Ohio and released on the privat DECO labl; several other songs have been written, recorded and released since that time.
More about Ethel here
|Ethel Delaney & Pee Wee King|