There were a number of professional whistlers throughout the previous century, but Fred Lowery was considered by many to be the king of them all. He made several recordings, including highly praised covers of "Indian Love Call" and The High and the Mighty theme. Lowery was blind for most of his life, if not all of it. Sources differ concerning the actual date when he lost his sight. Some say he was born blind, while others contend he went blind when he was two years old. The native Texan was born in 1910 in the Piney Woods region. The Texas School for the Blind educated him, and there he discovered his unique and enhanced talent for whistling. In 1929 at the Austin school, he encountered an imitator of birdcalls for the first time. That meeting, coupled with the urging of his piano instructor, led him to give whistling a try himself. The master whistler embarked on his professional career at Dallas radio station WFAA. Toward the end of the 1930s he settled in New York, where he devoted almost five years to a nightclub routine with Vincent Lopez. Lowery's unique act was a hit, and he soon moved up to a gig with Horace Heidt. Thanks to the national exposure provided by Heidt's act, the whistler was able to tour as a solo act during the 1940s. He also appeared with vocalist Dorothy Rae, and even whistled gospel numbers on occasion. Lowery made appearances with a number of the era's stars, among them Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason, Steve Allen, Bob Hope, Edgar Bergen, Stan Kenton, and Bing Crosby. He passed away in 1984.
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