Sally Cohn has been handwhistling with her cupped hands for nearly sixty years, starting when she was twelve. She discovered her unique whistling gift while attending a basketball game. This inspired her to try whistling tunes while playing Bing Crosby 78 rpm phonograph recordings on a Magnavox turntable (before LP’s, stereos, cassettes, CD’s or DVD’s). Her first public performance was in 1950 at a huge athletic coliseum on a large college campus during a 4-H Club-sponsored talent show. That show was broadcast live by a local radio station, now an affiliate of NPR. She didn’t really do much with her handwhistling gift until she was able to experiment and create three-part harmony layers on cassette tapes in the Sixties. That helped her to improve her whistling technique to the point where she felt it was suitable for public performance.
Over the last thirty years, she has whistled in several Celtic bands, where she also plays the recorder, tin whistle, and washtub bass. She has also whistled in an all-women’s jug band, with Mitch Hider’s "Holiday For Lips" whistling festivals in Oregon, with several church choirs, and in more talent shows than she can remember. She competed in the Carson City, Nevada Whistleoffs and in the Eastbourne, U.K. whistling competition in 1992. Her last competition whistling was done at the Edmonton, Alberta Millennium Whistling Championships. Since then, she has participated in three of Robert Stemmons’ Puckerama Festivals. At two of them, she conducted handwhistling workshops. She has also done those workshops for middle-school kids at a church camp.
She is a a retired state agency clerical specialist, but she did teach school in the sixties and early seventies and caught/discovered a number of middle-school-aged boys with ADHD tendencies who loved to use their whistling gift to disrupt class. She has never caught girls doing this, but she did turn several girls on to making music with their hands in her church camp workshops. She is always very careful to caution these kids about where it’s okay to whistle and where it’s not okay, like in a classroom. 1
Sally Cohn's audition in Episode 507 consisted of hand whistling the tune of "America the Beautiful." Sharon Osbourne buzzed the act. Although Osbourne voted "No," Piers Morgan and Howie Mandel both voted "Yes," sending Sally to the Vegas Round.
Sally Cohn was one of the Judges' Favorites in the Vegas Round. She was sorted into the "Novelty Acts" category. Her performance in Episode 511 consisted of hand whistling "Over the Rainbow." Her audition was strong enough for the judges to send her to the Quarterfinals.
Sally Cohn's Quarterfinals performance in Episode 513 consisted of hand whistling "Hero" by Nick Cannon's wife Mariah Carey. Sally did not receive enough votes to finish in at least fifth place in America's Vote, eliminating her from the competition in Episode 514 along with Airpocalypse, instead of Nathaniel Kenyon.