How I Became a Yodeler
“Sometimes on the way to your dream, you get lost and find a better one.” - Lisa Hammond
Because so many people always ask what brought me to start yodeling, I want to tell you the story of my own tiny American Dream. I am not a household name, nor am I rich (yet...), but I got to experience some pretty cool things that I never thought were really possible, by performing this unique form of art .
Here's a little disclaimer: Yodeling is not something I grew up with, even though I am from Bavaria.
I came here (to LA) to become a singer and never once would've thought, let alone planned, that I'd start to yodel. I am still a singer but with the extra addition of a rather rare vocal technique.
If you want to know more about how a girl from Bavaria becomes a Yodeler in Hollywood keep on reading....
1. It All Started in Music College
My "LA Story" began with a one and a half year long music education at the Los Angeles College of Music (short LACM) in Pasadena. Majoring in vocal performance we were taught classes of many different genres, such as Jazz, Rock, R’nB and also American Country. Our country teacher at the time, Teresa James (who you should check out because she is amazing), encouraged all of us singers to learn how to yodel and sing a song called "Blue Yodel" by Jimmie Rodgers. So me and my roommate went home and started practicing this new way of singing we had never tried before. There was no way to do this quietly and we basically just laughed at each other for the most part. At no point did I feel like I had this acrobatic voice challenge figured out. The next morning we went back to school and, sitting in class, each one of us, one after the other, was to give this little yodel tune their best shot. As I opened my mouth a real decent yodel made its way out and my classmates applauded me and jokingly determined that I had a yodel gene, being from Bavaria. My first little proud yodel moment had happened.
2. I Challenged Myself
My teacher Teresa didn't play a little role in all of this. She promised us extra points for throwing in a yodel here and there during our performances. So when it was time for our quarterly showcase I decided to go all in and surprise everyone else by picking a song I discovered on youtube that, at the time, seemed like a yodel beast to me. "He Taught Me How To Yodel". At that point I realized how much fun I had with this thing and doing it faster and faster (which is the real challenge in yodeling). The crowd loved it. And so did I.
3. The Walk of Fame Idea
Since my newfound talent resonated so well with so many people I decided to record said song, to put part of it on my singing reel. I ended up having some amazing musicians record the instrumental parts for me, and because it came out so good my drummer Jonas jokingly suggested to put me on the Walk of Fame in my Dirndl (the traditional Bavarian dress) and shoot a full on music video for this song, just for the heck of it. I mean, why not? I liked the idea and so my friend Bruno (who is an amazing photographer, videographer and guitarist) singlehandedly captured me in different locations, lip syncing to my own new track. It was never supposed to be more than just a fun project, but oh, I would've never thought what one video can start...
Today this video has over 200,000 views on youtube.
If you haven't yet, here's a link for you to check it out yourself:
4. Newspaper, Magazines and TV...
At the time I posted the video I was trying to apply for an Artist Visa, in order for me to be able to stay in the States after my studies. On top of countless other documents, I needed evidence that provided proof that I am talented artist, such as newspaper articles and similar things. I reached out to several local newspapers around my hometown and my story got featured in a few different papers. But what happened next was nothing I could've planned. Europe's biggest Sunday newspaper (BILD am Sonntag) reached out to me to see if I was interested in a feature. One big page had my big picture on it and a story about the "Bavarian Yodeler in Hollywood". This felt surreal. But it didn't stop there. One of Germany's celebrity and gossip magazines (IN magazine) also reached out to me and the same thing happened. After that, two major TV channels emailed me to report about me on exactly those two shows I used to watch on a daily as a teenager. Yodeling opened door after door for me, to places I wasn't sure I would ever get to see. Camera teams flew to LA and interviewed me, had me yodel on the Walk of Fame for them and broadcasted my story for all of Germany to see. It might have been somewhat tacky, but I'm telling you, experiencing this whole new world felt so amazing.
5. I Found My Niche in LA
Slowly but surely I got to know more and more people who play local Oktoberfest gigs and provide entertainment for German Themed Parties here in LA. To this day I don't know another female Bavarian yodeler in this city. High season is in September and October, of course. And while Oktoberfests here never seem to be quite what they are in Germany I love having the chance to bring our german culture to the US, sing our typical "Volksfest" songs and entertain fun loving people with my yodeling. Through all of this exposure I also appeared on an American TV Show (The Gong Show), with Maya Rudolph, Andy Samberg and Megan Fox being the judges. I wrote a song for a movie (Crashpad) and I did a yodel voice over for a Nickelodeon Show. Life's been so cool since I started yodeling!
6. Status Quo
It's early August and in the last two weeks I've had three gigs as a Yodeler. One of them at a kindergarten (they're learning about Pennsylvania), another one for a student TV show (I only had to yodel for one minute), and another one for a birthday party of somebody who's name must not be said (but it definitely was one of my coolest experiences so far!!).
We're getting ready for this year's Oktoberfest season now and if you want to stay posted on my yodelicious journey, check out "Yodelstar" on the main Homepage or come follow me on instagram @kathrinjakob.
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Have you tried to yodel before? Do you know anyone who yodels? If yes, let me know, because I'd love to connect with them. And with YOU!
THANK YOU FOR READING wonderful readers!
Much love, Kathrin