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Vera Hall

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Vera Hall
Background information
Birth nameAdell Hall Ward
Born(1902-04-06)April 6, 1902
Paynesville, Sumter County, Alabama, United States[1]
DiedJanuary 29, 1964(1964-01-29) (aged 61)
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States
GenresFolk , Piedmont blues,[2] country blues[2]

Adell Hall Ward, better known as Vera Hall (April 6, 1902 – January 29, 1964),[1] was an American folk singer, born in Livingston, Alabama.[2] Best known for her 1937 song "Trouble So Hard", she was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame in 2005.[3]


Hall was born at Payneville, Sumter County, Alabama,[1] near Livingston, and sang her entire life. Her mother Zully Hall, a former slave,[4] and father Agnes Efron, 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, Hall's singing gained national exposure.

John Avery Lomax, ethnomusicologist, met Hall in the 1930s and recorded her for the Library of Congress.[2] Lomax wrote that she had the loveliest voice he had ever recorded.[citation needed] The BBC played Hall's recording of "Another Man Done Gone" in 1943 as a sample of American folk music. Earlier, The Library of Congress played the song in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1937. In 1945, Hall recorded with Byron Arnold. In 1984, the recordings were released as a collection of folk songs entitled Cornbread Crumbled in Gravy. According to recording artist and writer Stephen Wade, "'Another Man Done Gone' became Vera Hall's most celebrated performance. Carl Sandburg recalled listening to it more than a dozen consecutive times during a January 1944 visit to Lomax's Dallas home...."[5]

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, later stating "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."

Hall died in January 1964 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.[2]

Today, her work still garners attention. Prized by scholars and folk song enthusiasts, Hall's recordings include examples of early blues and folk songs that are found nowhere else.[6]


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.

Moby's 2000 single "Natural Blues" is essentially an extended remix of the song "Trouble So Hard" recorded by Hall in 1937.[2] By coincidence, Moby — real name Richard Melville Hall — shares Hall's surname.

A historical marker in Hall's honor was dedicated on April 21, 2007 in Livingston.

Hall's 1959 rendition of "O, Death" was featured in episode three of the first season of Altered Carbon, a Netflix original.


  1. ^ a b c Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues - A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers. p. 88. ISBN 978-0313344237.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Stacia Proefrock. "Vera Hall". Allmusic. Retrieved November 9, 2011.
  3. ^ "Inductees". Alabama Women's Hall of Fame. State of Alabama. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
  4. ^ Lomax, Alan; Hall, Vera (1948-05-23). "Wild ox moan (Black woman). Session V". Alan Lomax Collection.
  5. ^ Wade, Stephen (2012). The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience. p. 154.
  6. ^ Tina Naremore Jones (2007-04-21). "Adele "Vera" Hall Ward". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved 2016-06-27.

Further reading[edit]