Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Whistling His Way to the Top

Let's hear it--literally--for Terry Rappold, who won the National Whistling Championship a couple weekends ago in North Carolina. He won both the classical and modern music categories. The sound was incredible.

Liquid, full notes, with some vibrato, each note sliding into the next with a full, rich sound that would make a mockingbird weep with envy. Very similar to the quality of a Stradivarius violin. Yeh, like that. I caught just a few measures on the air, and was left craving more. That's a contest I would have liked to attend.

Lots of people whistle, though, I think, fewer do now then a decade or so back. Men and women used to sing and whistle as they went about their work.( Were they happier? Or just in better health aerobically?) When asked, Terry said he thinks great whistlers are just born, not made. When he was a kid growing up in New Orleans, he could already whistle well enough to perform for change off the tourists. Already had that full, rich sound. His uncle was an extraordinary whistler, too. Of course he has practiced, learned the music for his performances.
Funny. We accept that some people are just born with outstanding voices. But whistling? The sound this man got out was sweet, full, rich. It was not quite like any musical instrument you have ever heard, but similar.

Every so often, I see or hear something humans over this world have made or performances of such beauty that I would never have thought of them. And I think, "Yeah, being human can be pretty wonderful."

I learned to whistle when I was 5 or so. After seeing the movie, "The High and the Mighty", I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be a professional whistler. To that end, I spent a fair amount of time out in the barn whistling song after song to the horses. Not a bad thing for a kid to be doing. I figured out pretty soon there wasn't going to be much future in it. I also figured out I didn't have star quality.

Terry Rabbold does. Oh, man. I'd buy a CD of his whistling and keep it right next to my Indian flute music.

Funny thing. The reporter asked if he can do that two-finger whistling thing. He laughed, and said he never could do it, but his wife can. All he can do is make beautiful music, day after day, by pursing his lips and whistling.

What a wonderful gift.

Disclaimer: I'm unsure of the spelling on his last name, as I heard this, didn't read it. To hear this interview go to KRLD radio web page and access Mike Rogers' file, "Other Side of the News."

1 comment:

Matt G said...

You got it right the first time-- it's Terry Rappold.

(I had to run a search on him.)