By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Mar 09, 2005 at 5:24 AM

{image1}Remember the local Shorewest Realty commercial where a Gen X-er living in suburbia unwraps his new "U 2 Can Yodel" album and blasts it on his bumpin' stereo system, only to have all of his neighbors simultaneously list their homes with Shorewest to escape?


The yodeler in the commercial (not the actor) is master yodeler Kerry Christensen who wrote the yodel, called "Chicken Yodel," in the '80s. Ten years later, Christensen received a call from a producer in Indiana who wanted to use the clucky yodel as the basis for a commercial.

At the time, no one knew the spot was going to become wildly popular, so Christensen agreed to let Shorewest use the song, and his "U 2 Can Yodel" record jacket cover, for a $900 flat fee, sans residuals.

"Am I bitter? No," he says. "Nobody knew the commercial was going to become as popular as it did. And in the music business, you get used to people taking advantage of your music. You start to say, 'Yep it happened again.'"

Christensen, who lives in Utah, sees the silver lining of the Shorewest situation in the fact that he was introduced to Milwaukee, particularly German Fest, where he has performed annually for the past six years and sold almost $40,000 in CDs, which is roughly what he thinks he would have made from Shorewest had he received royalties.

Plus, he says every year in March or April -- around Easter -- his "Chicken Yodel" is "all over the Internet."

Prior to making the commercial, Christensen worked as a yodeler at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center German Village for eight years. Recently, he appeared in two films: Disney's "Home on the Range" and Paramount Picture's "Without a Paddle" starring Burt Reynolds. He also performs 200 shows a year in the United States and Canada and this year will yodel his way through Norway, Japan and China.

"It's kind of weird," he says. "I never would have thought this (life) was possible."

Christensen, 50, was raised on a potato farm in Grace, Idaho and started performing at the age of 3. While driving the family tractor around the potato fields, he practiced yodeling 15 hours a day, driving his father crazy until he banished young Kerry to the garage.

"To no avail," he says, reminding that yodeling was originally used to communicate between hillside farms. "Yodeling carries very well."

Christensen is the father of four, including daughter Emilie who is also a yodeler and already teaches the ancient artform to her 9-month-old son.

Christensen hopes to perform with his daughter and grandson in the future, but he knows his vocal chords won't let him yodel forever.

"Someday, I plan to sit back and play the Austrian zither and keep my mouth shut," he says.

Stay tuned to OMC for Christensen's performance dates at German Fest this summer.

Kerry Christensen's Web site is

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.