I Hear a Sweet Voice Calling

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"I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling"
Song by Bill Monroe
from the album 'Blue Moon of Kentucky'
Released1947 (1947)
Songwriter(s)Bill Monroe

I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling is a song written and originally recorded by Bill Monroe, who sang lead and also added a tenor harmony to the chorus in his October 27, 1947 recording on the Columbia Records label.[1] It appears on his album Blue Moon of Kentucky.

Themes and reception[edit]

The song is about a dying girl who faces the sure prospect of going to heaven, with the opening lyrics; "Our little girl had taken sick one evening as she walked home from school and then her deathbed soon claimed her, it made us so sad and so blue.[2] As Robert Cantwell put it in his book Bluegrass breakdown: the making of the old southern sound, "the sick child leaves the world with a rebuke to her parents, whose tears imply that their faith has been shaken."[3] In the recording, Joe Val sang in falsetto on this song; he was a strong tenor on most songs.[4] Bluegrass Unlimited said "His songs were at once tragic and filled with a radiant life force, in music as heart-wrenchingly old-fashioned as "I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling".[5] Monroe has also performed it live with the Osborne Brothers and it was described "achingly beautiful yet electrically exciting music, ruefully outdated by time."[6]

Elvis Presley recording[edit]

Elvis Presley recorded a brief, rough version on 4 December, 1956 and had also recorded Monroe's other songs such as Blue Moon of Kentucky, Little Cabin on the Hill, Summertime Has Passed and Gone and Sweetheart, You Done Me Wrong.[7] Elvis was a major fan of bluegrass artist Monroe.[8] Elvis altered Monroe's original waltz time to a rocking 4/4 boogie beat and claimed that it was songs such as I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling which were of major importance in the development of rock and roll.[8]


  1. ^ Smith, Richard D. (2000). Can't you hear me callin': the life of Bill Monroe, father of bluegrass. Hachette Digital.
  2. ^ Jennings, Dana (26 May 2008). Sing me back home: love, death, and country music. Macmillan. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-86547-960-9. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  3. ^ Cantwell, Robert (January 2003). Bluegrass breakdown: the making of the old southern sound. University of Illinois Press. p. 231. ISBN 978-0-252-07117-1. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  4. ^ Schmidt, Eric Von; Rooney, Jim (1994). Baby, let me follow you down: the illustrated story of the Cambridge folk years. Univ of Massachusetts Press. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-87023-925-0. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  5. ^ Bluegrass unlimited. Bluegrass Unlimited. 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  6. ^ Green, Douglas B. (June 1976). Country roots: the origins of country music. Hawthorn Books. p. 117. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  7. ^ Neale, David (15 September 2003). Roots of Elvis. iUniverse. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-595-29505-0. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  8. ^ a b Rosenberg, Neil V. (1 August 2005). Bluegrass: a history. University of Illinois Press. p. 121. ISBN 978-0-252-07245-1. Retrieved 19 July 2011.

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