Thursday, March 6, 2008


 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.
 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.

Hollerin' a record originally released in 1976 is available on Rounder Records.
The CD version includes a booklet about the National Hollerin' Contest with photos and stories about it contestants.
H.H. Oliver belts out some amazing hollers as well as stories that define the tradition of Hollerin'.
"Bout sometime we go see us a girl on the mules back in there, and we'd holler commin' on back on da mules, rode da mules to see da girls. I tell you what if you'd holler before you got there she'd smell a little better when you got there because she'd been choppin' cotton all day an everything and hadn't had much time to get ready for you if you'd have just walked right in."
-H.H. Oliver
“It was something to do out in the fields for some people. You might not be able to sing, but you could holler.”
- Wayne Edwards, Hollerin' Contest Emcee

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