“Yodelling is a dying art. Not a lot of people are doing it, but a lot have died in the attempt”, Lynda Topp, yodeller.
Why wouldn’t they yodel in New Zealand ? They have big open spaces with lots of cattle and sheep. So it’s not a surprise to find country music with yodel. What’s more a surprise is to find it interpreted by lesbian twins, the Topp Twins, who form a comic singing yodelling duo. They have a tv show, they compose country songs and they write and perfom comedy. One of the characters they play are the Gingham Sisters – yodelling spoon-clacking Hillbillies.
Lynda and Jools Topp were born in 1958 and raised in a small dairy farm of the Northern Island. This rural upbringing explain their tendency to sing country songs and to yodelling (they were influenced by a neighbour’s collection of Shirley Thoms, Judy Holmes and Patsy Montana on old 78s. Jools tells this about her sister’s passion of yodel: “The first time Lynda heard a yodel she went into this sort of swoon and became obsessed about learning it. She used to ride to the nearby farm about 30 minutes up the road on horseback, listen to their old wind-up gramophone, jump back on her horse, race home, get out the guitar and desperately try and remember what she had just heard – it took her three years to learn to yodel”. (from the official site)
On their cd Grass Highway, they return to the roots of country music, with two-part harmonic singing and accompanied with guitar, mouth harp and spoons. They have a distinct yodel, full of vocals gymnastics, that appears in romantic country songs.
Link 1: official site
Link2: the trailer of a new documentary about them
Link3: the Gingham Sisters in action