Whistle while you work

People from 14 countries and 25 US states have been taking part in this year's International Whistlers Convention in North Carolina, with the age of the contestants ranging from seven to 90.

    The 38th International Whistlers Convention has been taking place in the tiny town of Louisburg, North Carolina.

    Whistlers from all over the world took part in a competition to find the world champion.

    Whistlers often talk about the need to "pucker-up" but oh boy do they need to have rubber lips and flexible tongues to do it.

    "I dunno if you saw that but that's how it's done," said competitor Luke Janssen, baring teeth, tongue and epiglottis to demonstrate his own special brand of trilling.

    Luke was a champion whistler two years ago and he came for his crown once again ... but the competition was stiff.

    Tim Eggert is a contestant from Florida, where he's a graphic artist for the Miami Herald newspaper.

    Tim wore a dinner jacket when he performed on stage and did a fine impression of Michael Jackson's dancing while he whistled his own version of Billie Jean. 

    "I think years ago I don't know how long ago whistling was seen as like a high art for it was really cool and in movies and things like that so one of my goals would kinda be to bring it to may be a younger audience and make it hip again," he said.

    People from 14 countries and 25 US states took part this year, with the age of the contestants ranging from seven to 90. 

    Everett Oba, an eleven year old from Japan, was determined to take part for the sake of his countrymen after the earthquake and tsunami.

    He told me: "I wanted to represent Japan so that they can build confidence in them and try and recover fast and better!"

    Asim Gorashi from Brisbane, Australia researches human whistling for his university. 

    Asim said: "It has been working very well as an art but there are some cultural boundaries like superstitions."

    He means that wind is said to conjure up mice in the Balkans, snakes and poverty in parts of Asia and, of course, fearsome gales for sailors out at sea.

    For Phyllis Heil whistling is a living - she tours the US as, "The Whistling Woman."

    "The first thing I ever whistled for a publically was a funeral and I was singing with a quartet and was asked to whistle the chorus of that song ... first time I ever knew that whistling could calm people down." she said.

    The convention and music festival also included a whistling art gallery and whistling museum.

    The town of Louisburg is known in the media as the "whistling capital of the world" - which is not a title it seeks for itself - but each year the governor and the Franklin County Board of Commissioners declares convention week to be, "Happy Whistlers' Week."   

    BS Hwang, a professional whistler from South Korea, tried to teach me to whistle as well as he does. Failed!

    I managed only a pathetic stream of high pitched, high velocity spittle but BS said I was "very good". 

    Which was very kind of him and way more than I deserved.


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