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Biography

The field holler or field call is a mostly historical type of vocal music sung by African slaves to accompany their work, to communicate usefully or to vent feelings. It differs from the collective work song in that it was sung solo, though early observers noted that a holler, or ‘cry’, might be echoed by other workers. Though commonly associated with cotton cultivation, the field holler was also sung by levee workers, and field hands in rice and sugar plantations. Field hollers are also known as corn-field hollers, water calls, and whoops. An early description is from 1853 and the first recordings are from the 1930's. The holler is closely related to the call and response of work songs, and arhoolies, to Afro-American and ultimately influenced strands of African American music, such as the blues, rhythm and blues, and spirituals.

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