Pictured is a memorial to Vera Hall that is located at Livingston, AL across the street from the courthouse square on the corner of Franklin Street and Washington Street (GPS coordinates 32.583463, -88.188465).
Following is the inscription on this memorial:
“Like a Spirit on the Water”
Vera Hall (1902-1964)
Born in 1902 in Payneville, Alabama, just outside of Livingston in Sumter County, Adele “Vera” Hall grew up to establish one of the most stunning bodies of folk music on record. Though Hall sang her entire life, it was not until the late 1930s that Hall’s singing gained national attention.
Ruby Pickens Tartt, an Alabama folklorist and Sumter County native, introduced Hall to famed ethnomusicologist John Avery Lomax. He recorded over 200 spirituals in Sumter County during recording trips for the Library of Congress in 1937, 1939, and 1941. Hall’s voice. along with her cousin Dock Reed, is included in many of these recordings. Lomax wrote that Hall “had the loveliest untrained voice” [he] had ever recorded and “Her performances were all graced with dignity and with love. Her sense of timing and beat were perfection itself… It is a liquid, full contralto, rich in low overtones; but it can leap directly into falsetto and play there as effortlessly as a bird in the wind,”
During her lifetime, Hall’s voice was recorded by Alan Lomax, Byron Arnold, Harold Courlander and others.Her work still garners attention. In 1999, techno-artist, Moby, included her voice and song “Trouble So Hard” in his multiplatinum album, Play, thus introducing Hall’s voice to a whole new generation of listeners. Prized by scholars and folksong enthusiasts, Hall’s recordings include examples of early blues and folk songs that are found nowhere else. Her masterful renditions of traditional songs and stories are a defining part of Southern Black culture and the Black Belt region.
“Blues puts your mind all in a wonder. You gets to studying over different things, wonderin’ how they come out to be as sad and so funny like.”
This memorial was erected by The Alabama Blues Project, Tuscaloosa, Alabama and The Sumter County Historical Society, Livingston, AL.
In March 2005, Vera Hall was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame.
CLICK HERE for additional details about the life of Vera Hall.