Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet a man who whistled while he worked.
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.
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Fred Lowery was born on Nov. 2, 1909, in Palestine, Texas. Lowery lost his eyesight at age 2. So, his parents enrolled him at the Texas School for the Blind in Austin, where his piano teacher helped him develop a talent for whistling. In 1929, Lowery began performing on Texas radio shows. In 1934, he moved to New York City and joined Vincent Lopez’s orchestra, eventually earning the nickname the “King of the Whistlers.”
During his career, Fred Lowery performed and recorded with such stars as Steve Allen, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. Lowery also whistled his way to the White House and Carnegie Hall before dying in Jacksonville, Texas, in 1984.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll visit a club that was key to integrating San Antonio.