Vera Ward Hall

April 6, 1902 - January 29, 1964
Vera Ward Hall

Adele "Vera" Ward Hall (1902-1964), despite her exquisite singing abilities and her extensive repertoire, worked all of her life as a washerwoman, nursemaid, and cook. She first came to the attention of John A. Lomax in 1937, when Ruby Pickens Tartt, folklorist and chair of the Federal Writers' Project of Sumter County, Alabama, introduced them; Lomax recorded Hall during three separate sessions in 1937, 1939, and 1940, writing that she had "the loveliest voice I have ever recorded." She sang Baptist hymns with her cousin Dock Reed and other Livingston friends like Jesse Allison, but she was also willing to record blues, ballads, hollers, and "worldly songs" such as "Stagolee” and "John Henry” learned from her friend Rich Amerson (and forbidden by her family).

Alan Lomax met Hall in 1948, when he arranged for her and Reed to come New York City for an American Music Festival. (It was Vera’s first and only time out of Alabama.) Their time together resulted in six- and-a-half hours of recordings and the raw material for her oral biography, which Lomax published in The Rainbow Sign. In that book, published in 1959 (the same year Hall made her last recordings, for Alan), Vera is called “Nora” to protect her identity and honor her confidence. Five years later Lomax wrote in her obituary in Sing Out! magazine: "The sound comes from deep within her when she sings, from a source of gold and light, otherwise hidden, and falls directly upon your ear like sunlight.... It is from singers like Vera Hall that all of us who love folk music in American have everything to learn. Her performances were all graced with dignity and love."

Appears in 149 items.
Title Contributor(s) Date Track
Vera Ward Hall at her home Photographer: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959
Vera Ward Hall at her home Photographer: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959
Vera Hall 1948 Contributor: Hall, Vera Ward May 1, 1948
Commentary by Vera Hall on courtship games and riddles Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 1
Young Speckled Lady Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 2
Commentary by Vera Hall on Young Speckled Lady Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 3
Riding In A Buggy Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 4
Yes Ma'am / Interview with Vera Hall about Yes Ma'am Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 5
Interview with Vera Hall about dance steps and patting Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 6
Ain't Gonna Rain No More (fragment) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 7
Commentary by Vera Hall on Ain't Gonna Rain No More Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 8
Rosie Baby Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 9
Commentary by Vera Hall on Rosie Baby and her mother Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 10
Railroad Bill (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 1
Railroad Bill (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 2
Interview with Vera Hall about Railroad Bill and Stagolee Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 3
Stagolee Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 4
Riding In A Buggy (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 5
Yes Ma'am (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 6
Rosie Baby (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 7
Come Up, Horsey Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 8
I Got A Home In That Rock Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 1
Commentary by Vera Hall on her mother's songs and her siblings Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 2
All Hid Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 3
Commentary by Vera Hall on hide and seek Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 4
What Is The Soul Of Man? Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 1
Mean Old Bedbug Blues Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 2
Trouble In Mind (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 3
Trouble In Mind (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 4
The Black Cat (The Black Cat And The White Cat) (fragment) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 5
Commentary by Vera Hall on interracial relationships Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 6
Wild Ox Moan (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 1
Last Month Of The Year (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 2
Last Month Of The Year (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 3
Boll Weevil (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 4
Boll Weevil (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 5
Wild Ox Moan (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 6
Wild Ox Moan (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 7
Commentary by Vera Hall on becoming a Christian (I) Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 1
He That Believe Have An Everlasting Home Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 2
Commentary by Vera Hall on becoming a Christian (II) Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 3
All My Sins Been Taken Away Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 4
Commentary by Vera Hall on becoming a Christian (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 5
Show Me The Way Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 6
Commentary by Vera Hall on becoming a Christian (IV) Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 7
Commentary by Vera Hall on her mother's death Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 1
I'll Fly Away Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 2
Interview with Vera Hall about the songs she sings when alone Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 3
When I Can Read My Titles Clear Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 4
Request by Alan Lomax for Riding In A Buggy Performer: Wood, Anna Lomax; Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 5
Riding In A Buggy (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 6
Commentary by Vera Hall on her family (I) Performer: Lomax, Elizabeth Lyttleton; Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 7
Commentary by Vera Hall on her family (II) Performer: Lomax, Elizabeth Lyttleton; Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 1
Streets Of Gold Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 2
Commentary by Vera Hall on Streets Of Gold Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 3
Commentary by Vera Hall on songs learned orally versus those from books Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 4
I Can Pray Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 5
Commentary by Vera Hall on music's role in church (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 6
Oh Lord, Have Mercy Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 7
Commentary by Vera Hall on music's role in church (II) Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 8
I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 9
Commentary by Vera Hall on songs for revivals and funerals Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 10
Shout For Joy Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 11
Commentary by Vera Hall on Reverend Giles, who preached himself to death (part 1) Performer: Lomax, Elizabeth; Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 12
Commentary by Vera Hall on Reverend Giles, who preached himself to death (part 2) Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 1
I Found A Way (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 2
Commentary by Vera Hall on I Found a Way Performer: Lomax, Elizabeth; Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 3
I Found A Way (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 4
Commentary by Vera Hall on prayer meetings, finding religion, and Rich Amerson Performer: Lomax, Elizabeth; Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 5
Commentary by Vera Hall on Rich Amerson, spiritual and secular songs, and her widowhood Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 1
Commentary by Vera Hall on remarriage and her cataracts Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 1
The Little Wooden Church Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 2
Commentary by Vera Hall on her favorite songs Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 3
Use Me Lord (fragment) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 4
Interview with Vera Hall about old songs versus new / Old Time Religion (fragment) Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 5
Go Down Old Hannah (fragment) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 6
Goodbye, Old Paint (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 8
Rocky Road Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 9
Rising Sun Blues (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 11
East Virginia (II) Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 13
Commentary by Vera Hall on her singing ability Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 14
Commentary by Vera Hall on buying sheet music Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 15
Commentary by Vera Hall on Blind Jesse Harris and why people sing Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 1
Trouble In Mind (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 2
Commentary by Vera Hall on her troubles Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 3
Commentary by Vera Hall on spiritual lyrics Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 4
John Saw The Number Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 5
Commentary by Vera Hall on John Saw The Number and maintaining a Christian perspective through adversity Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 6
Rosie Baby (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 1
Rosie Baby (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 2
Wild Ox Moan (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 3
Another Man Done Gone (false start) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 4
Another Man Done Gone (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 5
Trouble In Mind (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 6
The Black Cat (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 7
Boll Weevil (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 8
Another Man Done Gone (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 1
Another Man Done Gone (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 2
Trouble In Mind (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 3
The Black Cat (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 4
Wild Ox Moan (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 5
Wild Ox Moan (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 6
Boll Weevil (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 7
Boll Weevil (fragment) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 8
Stagolee (false start) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 1
Stagolee Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 2
Railroad Bill Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 3
Unidentified song fragment Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 4
When I Can Read My Titles Clear Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 5
I Know The Lord Will Make A Way Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 1
Down On Me Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 2
Let Me Ride Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 3
Interview with Vera Hall about playing church and singing Performer: Unidentified woman; Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 4
Riding In A Buggy Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 1
Yes, Ma'am Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 2
Come Up Horsey (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 3
Come Up Horsey (fragment) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 4
Come Up Horsey (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 5
Come Up Horsey (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan May 1, 1948 6
No Room At The Inn (song) (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 5
No Room At The Inn (story) (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 6
Last Month Of The Year (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 7
No Room At The Inn (song) (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 8
No Room At The Inn (story) (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 9
Last Month Of The Year (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 10
Last Month Of The Year (last stanza) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 11
Mama's Gonna Buy You A Little Lap Dog Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 12
Wild Ox Moan (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 13
Wild Ox Moan (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 14
No Room At The Inn (false start) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 1
No Room At The Inn (song) (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 2
No Room At The Inn (story) (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 3
Last Month Of The Year (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 4
Ridin' In A Buggy / Candy Gal Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 5
Candy Gal Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 6
I Got A Home In That Rock Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 7
Boll Weevil Holler (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 8
Talk/ambience Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 9
Boll Weevil Holler (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 10
Wild Ox Moan (III) (part 1) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 11
Wild Ox Moan (III) (part 2) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 12
Trouble So Hard (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 15
Trouble So Hard (fragment) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 16
Trouble So Hard (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 17
Young Speckled Lady Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 18
Great Day Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 19
Death Have Mercy (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 20
Death Have Mercy (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 1
Death Have Mercy (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Recordist: Lomax, Alan Oct 10, 1959 2