Vera Hall

Born: 1906, Livingston, Alabama

Died: Jan. 29, 1964

Primarily a gospel singer whose specially was the unaccompanied spiritual; she recorded with the Library of Congress label in 1937 and 1939-1940, and with the Folkways label in 1948 through 1950. She worked on the Folk Song concert at Columbia University in New York City in 1949. Recorded on the Atlantic and Prestige labels in 1959.

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

Adele "Vera" Hall (1902-1964) was an Alabama blues

Adell Hall Ward, better known as Vera Hall (April 6, 1902 – January 29, 1964)[1] was an American folk singer born in Payneville, Alabama. She is best known for her song "Trouble So Hard" (1937).


Vera Hall grew up near Livingston, Alabama. Hall sang her entire life, her mother and father, Agnes Efron and Zully Hall learning, taught her songs such as "I Got the Home", "In the Rock", and "When I'm Standing Wondering, Lord, Show Me the Way". Hall married Nash Riddle, a coal miner, in 1917 and gave birth to their daughter, Minnie Ada. Riddle was killed in 1920. In the late 1930s Vera Hall's singing gained national exposure.

John Avery Lomax, ethnomusicologist, met Hall in the 1930s and recorded her for the Library of Congress. Lomax wrote that she had the loveliest voice [he] had ever recorded. The British Broadcasting System played Halls recording of "Another Man Done Gone" in 1943 as a sampling of American folk music. The Library of Congress played the song the same year in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1945, Hall recorded with Byron Arnold. In 1984, the recordings were released as a collection of folk songs entitled "Cornbread Crumbled in Gravy".

In 1948, with the help of Alan Lomax, Hall traveled to New York and performed on May 15 at the American Music Festival at Columbia University. During the course of this trip, Lomax interviewed Hall on several occasions. In 1959, these interviews would be transformed into Rainbow Sign, a thinly- guised biography of Hall. In this book, Lomax stated,

"Her singing is like a deep-voiced shepherds flute, mellow and pure in tone, yet always with hints of the lips and the pleasure-loving flesh... 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 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."

Today, her work still garners attention. Prized by scholars and folksong enthusiasts, Halls recordings include examples of early blues and folk songs that are found nowhere else.[2]


Hall's record, "Another Man Done Gone", was played on the BBC in 1943 as a highlight to American folk music. Also, "Another Man Done Gone" was played by Congress to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. In addition, Moby's single "Natural Blues" is essentially an extended remix of the song "Trouble So Hard" (1937).

Lomax recorded Hall singing numerous songs that were put into the United States Library of Congress for preservation. Lomax's son, Alan, also championed Vera Hall – bringing her to New York for a performance at Columbia University in 1948 and assembling Rainbow Sign, a book based on Hall's life and stories.

A historical marker in her honor was dedicated on April 21, 2007 in Livingston.


1^ - accessed July 2010





"Doc Reed and Vera Hall, cousins who have sung together for many years. They are good singers of the old style spirituals, are perfect in "seconding"- "following after" they call it,- and they know many songs. Not having book-learning they store in the back of their heads innumerable tunes and stanzas. Vera Hall is especially quick to "catch up" a new tune. And if they do not understand completely the text, they are ingenious in supplying substitutes, either from other spirituals or from their own feelings of the moment." - John Lomax



More info:



The Alabama Blues Project has established a fund to honor the life and music of Vera Hall. Proceeds from this fund will be used to purchase a historical marker to be placed in Livingston near the cemetery where Vera Hall lies buried in an unmarked grave. The Vera Hall Memorial Fund is in collaboration with the Sumter County Historical Society in Livingston, Alabama, who will help with the design, placement and funding of this important project. The goal of this endeavor is to honor and help bring attention to the life and artistry of Vera Hall, and bring the rich music culture of the Alabama Black Belt region to a wider audience. So far we have raised about 65% of the amount needed.

The Alabama Blues Project is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization and all contributions to this fund are tax deductible. If you would like to help, please send your contribution to:

The Vera Hall Memorial Fund

Alabama Blues Project

2620 2nd Street East

Tuscaloosa, AL 35404



Spirituals with Dock Reed and Vera Hall Ward, Dock ReedNegro Folk Music of Alabama, Vol. 5: Spirituals, Dock Reed



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