As Bessie Smith noted “I'm gonna yodel, yodel my blues away,” which goes a long way toward showing that the involvement of Africans and African-Americans in yodeling is not incidental but intimately linked with the history of the disapora associated with the slave trade. The forced migration from Africa to the Americas as facilitated by the slave-trading nations of Western Europe led to the introduction of African musical traditions in a New World-setting. The histories of jazz, blues, soul and rock and roll are all well-documented positive results of this very negative diaspora. Less noted [very little documentation] is the prevalence of yodeling among the freed slaves, among black cowboys, black country performers, and the employment of yodeling in blakc music genres like jazz, blues, funk, reggae and hiphop. This is best exemplified in the vocal experiments of Leon Thomas, whose most famous work is “Creator Has a Master Plan,” which he wrote and worked with Pharoah Sanders. He believed his yodeling came directly from his Pygmy ancestors and spoke through his voice. Leon Thomas believed that Pygmies sang through his voice. He extended the anthropological “verbal energy” whenever his Pygmy-yodel-scat erupted from the opening at the top of his larynx. Thomas called this yodeling “Soularfone”; Pharoah Sanders called Thomas’ yodel “the moaning of spirits known and unknown.” It is most evident on “Creator Has A Master Plan.”
Ray Charles, Leon Thomas, Solo Burundi Girl [Burundi], Trio Bow [Congo], Bosavi people [Papua New Guinea], Baka Beyond [Cameroon/UK], Kipsigi [Kenya], Francis Bebey [Cameroon], Lottie Kimbrough & Winston Holmes [US], Salum Abdallah & Cuban Marimba [Tanzania-Cuban rumba yodel], Tommy Johnson [Mississippi], C.B. '88' Cook [US], Charles Anderson [US], Josephine Baker [Paris], Slim Gaillard [US/Detroit], Charley Pride 2:51 [US/Mississippi], McDonald Craig [US/Tennessee], Mike Johnson [US/Washington], Minnie Ripperton [US], Sly & The Family Stone [US/CA], Parliament [US], De La Soul [US/NY], Leroy Gibbs [Jamaica], Lee Perry & Mad Professor [Jamaica/UK], Dub Syndicate [UK], Barrington Levy [Jamaica] Zap Mama [Congo], Trio Select [Haiti], Pygmies [Gabon], Sally Nyolo [Cameroon].