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 Hall 1948 1948
Vera Ward Hall at her home 1959-10-10
Vera Ward Hall at her home 1959-10-10
Commentary by Vera Hall on courtship games and riddles Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 1
Young Speckled Lady Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 2
Commentary by Vera Hall on Young Speckled Lady Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 3
Riding In A Buggy Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 4
Yes Ma'am / Interview with Vera Hall about Yes Ma'am Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 5
Interview with Vera Hall about dance steps and patting Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 6
Ain't Gonna Rain No More (fragment) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 7
Commentary by Vera Hall on Ain't Gonna Rain No More Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 8
Rosie Baby Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 9
Commentary by Vera Hall on Rosie Baby and her mother Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 10
Railroad Bill (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 1
Railroad Bill (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 2
Interview with Vera Hall about Railroad Bill and Stagolee Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 3
Stagolee Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 4
Riding In A Buggy (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 5
Yes Ma'am (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 6
Rosie Baby (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 7
Come Up, Horsey Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 8
I Got A Home In That Rock Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 1
Commentary by Vera Hall on her mother's songs and her siblings Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 2
All Hid Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 3
Commentary by Vera Hall on hide and seek Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 4
What Is The Soul Of Man? Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 1
Mean Old Bedbug Blues Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 2
Trouble In Mind (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 3
Trouble In Mind (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 4
The Black Cat (The Black Cat And The White Cat) (fragment) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 5
Commentary by Vera Hall on interracial relationships Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 6
Wild Ox Moan (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 1
Last Month Of The Year (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 2
Last Month Of The Year (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 3
Boll Weevil (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 4
Boll Weevil (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 5
Wild Ox Moan (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 6
Wild Ox Moan (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 7
Commentary by Vera Hall on becoming a Christian (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 1
He That Believe Have An Everlasting Home Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 2
Commentary by Vera Hall on becoming a Christian (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 3
All My Sins Been Taken Away Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 4
Commentary by Vera Hall on becoming a Christian (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 5
Show Me The Way Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 6
Commentary by Vera Hall on becoming a Christian (IV) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 7
Commentary by Vera Hall on her mother's death Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 1
I'll Fly Away Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 2
Interview with Vera Hall about the songs she sings when alone Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 3
When I Can Read My Titles Clear Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 4
Request by Alan Lomax for Riding In A Buggy Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Wood, Anna Lomax 1948-05-01 5
Riding In A Buggy (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 6
Commentary by Vera Hall on her family (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Lomax, Elizabeth 1948-05-01 7
Commentary by Vera Hall on her family (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Lomax, Elizabeth 1948-05-01 1
Streets Of Gold Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 2
Commentary by Vera Hall on Streets Of Gold Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 3
Commentary by Vera Hall on songs learned orally versus those from books Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 4
I Can Pray Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 5
Commentary by Vera Hall on music's role in church (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 6
Oh Lord, Have Mercy Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 7
Commentary by Vera Hall on music's role in church (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 8
I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 9
Commentary by Vera Hall on songs for revivals and funerals Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 10
Shout For Joy Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 11
Commentary by Vera Hall on Reverend Giles, who preached himself to death (part 1) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Lomax, Elizabeth 1948-05-01 12
Commentary by Vera Hall on Reverend Giles, who preached himself to death (part 2) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 1
I Found A Way (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 2
Commentary by Vera Hall on I Found a Way Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Lomax, Elizabeth 1948-05-01 3
I Found A Way (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 4
Commentary by Vera Hall on prayer meetings, finding religion, and Rich Amerson Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Lomax, Elizabeth 1948-05-01 5
Commentary by Vera Hall on Rich Amerson, spiritual and secular songs, and her widowhood Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 1
Commentary by Vera Hall on remarriage and her cataracts Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 1
The Little Wooden Church Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 2
Commentary by Vera Hall on her favorite songs Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 3
Use Me Lord (fragment) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 4
Interview with Vera Hall about old songs versus new / Old Time Religion (fragment) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 5
Go Down Old Hannah (fragment) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 6
Goodbye, Old Paint (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 8
Rocky Road Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 9
Rising Sun Blues (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 11
East Virginia (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 13
Commentary by Vera Hall on her singing ability Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 14
Commentary by Vera Hall on buying sheet music Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 15
Commentary by Vera Hall on Blind Jesse Harris and why people sing Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 1
Trouble In Mind (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 2
Commentary by Vera Hall on her troubles Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 3
Commentary by Vera Hall on spiritual lyrics Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 4
John Saw The Number Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 5
Commentary by Vera Hall on John Saw The Number and maintaining a Christian perspective through adversity Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan 1948-05-01 6
Rosie Baby (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 1
Rosie Baby (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 2
Wild Ox Moan (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 3
Another Man Done Gone (false start) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 4
Another Man Done Gone (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 5
Trouble In Mind (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 6
The Black Cat (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 7
Boll Weevil (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 8
Another Man Done Gone (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 1
Another Man Done Gone (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 2
Trouble In Mind (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 3
The Black Cat (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 4
Wild Ox Moan (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 5
Wild Ox Moan (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 6
Boll Weevil (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 7
Boll Weevil (fragment) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 8
Stagolee (false start) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 1
Stagolee Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 2
Railroad Bill Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 3
Unidentified song fragment Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 4
When I Can Read My Titles Clear Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 5
I Know The Lord Will Make A Way Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 1
Down On Me Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 2
Let Me Ride Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 3
Interview with Vera Hall about playing church and singing Performer: Hall, Vera Ward; Performer: Lomax, Alan; Performer: Unidentified woman 1948-05-01 4
Riding In A Buggy Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 1
Yes, Ma'am Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 2
Come Up Horsey (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 3
Come Up Horsey (fragment) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 4
Come Up Horsey (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 5
Come Up Horsey (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1948-05-01 6
No Room At The Inn (song) (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 5
No Room At The Inn (story) (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 6
Last Month Of The Year (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 7
No Room At The Inn (song) (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 8
No Room At The Inn (story) (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 9
Last Month Of The Year (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 10
Last Month Of The Year (last stanza) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 11
Mama's Gonna Buy You A Little Lap Dog Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 12
Wild Ox Moan (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 13
Wild Ox Moan (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 14
No Room At The Inn (false start) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 1
No Room At The Inn (song) (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 2
No Room At The Inn (story) (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 3
Last Month Of The Year (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 4
Ridin' In A Buggy / Candy Gal Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 5
Candy Gal Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 6
I Got A Home In That Rock Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 7
Boll Weevil Holler (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 8
Talk/ambience Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 9
Boll Weevil Holler (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 10
Wild Ox Moan (III) (part 1) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 11
Wild Ox Moan (III) (part 2) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 12
Trouble So Hard (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 15
Trouble So Hard (fragment) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 16
Trouble So Hard (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 17
Young Speckled Lady Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 18
Great Day Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 19
Death Have Mercy (I) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 20
Death Have Mercy (II) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 1
Death Have Mercy (III) Performer: Hall, Vera Ward 1959-10-10 2