{ subscribe_url:'/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/nls-music-notes.php' }

American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: L (Part 2 – Lowery, Fred)

For this blog post, I chose a somewhat unusual musician to discuss – Mr. Fred Lowery. What makes him unusual? Well, his main instrument is…whistling. Yes, that’s right—Mr. Lowery was one of the world’s preeminent whistlers!

Fred Lowery was born in Palestine, Texas in 1909 and became legally blind two years later after contracting scarlet fever. While attending the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Austin, TX, he met Ernest Nichols who instructed him in bird calls. While there, he also took piano lessons with Peggy Richter. By 1929, Lowery was showcasing his whistling talent on the radio, as he worked with and performed on a Dallas variety radio show called “Early Birds.” From there, Fred Lowery moved to New York City, hoping to make it big. It took a few years, but in the late 1930s he was hired by band leader and composer Victor Lopez. From there, he worked with numerous other band and orchestra leaders in the 1940s and 50s, including Horace Heidt, Paul Weston, Leroy Holmes, and Norman Luboff. Although he was a featured soloists with many musicians and band leaders, he recorded 10 albums of his own. From the mid-1960s on, his recordings were mostly gospel tunes and church hymns. He passed away in 1984 in Jacksonville, Texas—close to where he was born.

Fred Lowery’s most famous album is 1957’s Walking Along Kicking the Leaves. It is an album of popular music, with Fred whistling all the while! Here are some of the tunes included on that album that are available in the NLS Music Collection:

“Indian Love Call” (BRM18153)

“Tennessee Waltz” in (BRM28811) and DBM02619 (piano)

“Far Away Places” in BRM32335

“The Moon of Manakoora” and “Sleepy Lagoon” in LPM00405

“Pagan Love Song” in LPM00779

“Moon Love” in BRM24360

“Sentimental Journey” in BRM19142 and LPM00341

The general NLS collection also has Fred Lowery’s autobiography Whistling in the Dark (DB 19749) available from your local Talking Book Library, and on BARD if you are interested in learning more about this very unique individual!

If you would like to order any of the music mentioned in this post, please contact the NLS Music Section by email ([email protected]), phone (1-800-424-8567, ext. 2), or comment below!

Nashville Sound: Hargus “Pig” Robbins

Hargus “Pig” Robbins might be the most famous piano player you’ve never heard of, though you’ve likely heard his work. The National Conference of Librarians Serving Blind and Physically Handicapped Individuals will begin in a matter of days in Nashville, Tennessee, so today I want to tell you about a musician who is blind and […]

Nashville Cats!

According to the song “Nashville Cats” by the Lovin’ Spoonful, there are “thirteen-hundred and fifty-two guitar pickers in Nashville.”  I wouldn’t question that number, but in fact I suspect it has increased dramatically since that song debuted in 1966. As my colleague Lindsay Conway wrote about in her blog post Music City 101:  NLS Heads […]

Music City 101: NLS Heads to Nashville!

Last month country music legend Dolly Parton joined Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden in a presentation to celebrate the achievements of Parton’s book-gifting organization (video of the event available here). They announced that the Library of Congress Young Readers Center is partnering with Parton’s charity to provide a special series of story time events. […]

Newest BARD Additions

Since we are on a roll talking about BARD, I thought it would be good to highlight some of the new (or newly digitized) titles that we’ve uploaded to BARD over the past few weeks. Talking Books Uncle Dave Macon (DBM03766) This is a look at “Uncle Dave” Macon (also known as “The Dixie Dewdrop) and […]

News about popular contemporary music? Yeah, we got that!

My colleague, Amanda Smith recently blogged about one of our magazines Musical Mainstream. While I have written of my classical music background and attend concerts in the area, I still like to be connected with what is trending in popular music. Contemporary Soundtrack is a compilation of magazine articles and reviews of popular music, featuring […]

Who Needs Country Music?

The following is a guest blog by Benjamin Bass who was the recorded sound technician in the Music Section of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. If you’ve ever had a conversation asking someone about what kind of music they are into, I’m sure you’ve heard something along the lines of […]