Nine year old Taylor Marie Ware, of Franklin, Tennessee, is the winner of the Yahoo Yodel Challenge. Ware was crowned "America's Favorite Amateur Yodeler" after beating out eight other finalists and hundreds of contestants from across the country. As the national champion, Ware wins $10,000 and a spot in a Yahoo TV ad.
"The Yahoo yodel is recognized worldwide as a symbol of the fun, open and innovative experience people want on the Internet," said Murray Gaylord, vice president of brand marketing, Yahoo. "Through her performance Taylor Marie represented the distinctive spirit of Yahoo through the combination of her yodeling skills and energetic star presence.
"Taylor Marie had already won over the hearts of the public throughout the qualifying stages of this event, and today she won over the judges. Yahoo is proud to declare her America's favorite amateur yodeler," added Gaylord.
Ware entered the Yahoo Yodel Challenge by submitting a VHS tape of her yodel, and was selected by event judges as one of the top three yodelers from all of the VHS/online submissions. Following this qualifying stage, her yodel was voted on at the official site, where she was chosen by the public as the representative from the VHS/Online submissions. Ware then out-yodeled eight other national finalists where her performance was judged on yodeling ability, star presence and style.
With her $10,000 prize, Ware is planning on buying a yellow Labrador, getting her ears pierced and saving the remainder for college. After winning the contest, nine year old Ware exclaimed, "I just feel excited and screamy. When I won, I couldn't believe it, everything was rushing through my mind. I am going to pass out." Ware learned how to yodel from a book and a tape, "I want to thank Margo Smith for her great book and tape, she is my idol," she said.
Audition-style events were held across eight U.S. cities, including New York, San Francisco, Kansas City, Chicago, Seattle, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Austin, during which three semi-finalists were chosen at each event with the help of local celebrity judges. In addition to the live events, participants were also allowed to enter by submitting their yodel online or via VHS tape. Participants were asked to perform the Yahoo yodel and their own "freestyle" yodel up to one minute in length, and were judged on their yodeling abilities, star presence, and style.
Throughout the national tour, Yahoo narrowed the field of yodelers to 27 semifinalists -- three from each of the eight cities visited throughout the contest, as well as the top three yodelers from the online and VHS submissions.