LOUISBURG, N.C. -- Greg Smith puckered up to George Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue' to claim the top honor in the 17th Annual National Whistling Championship.
Smith, 32, of Raleigh, N.C., also whistled 'Boogiewoogie Bugle Boy' to capture the title of grand champion in the contest Saturday that featured participants from more than 20 states.
Smith edged out last year's champ Sean Lomax, a San Diego, Calif., navyman known as the 'whistling sailor.' Lomax came in second place with 'The Barber of Seville' and 'The Theme From Superman.'
Jeffrey Tillett, 10, of Centerville, N.C., won the children's title and Amy Rose, 16, also of North Carolina, defended her title as the nation's best whistling teenager. Tillett whistled Brahm's 'Lullaby' and Rose chose selections from Mozart.
Smith won $300 cash, two roundtrip airline tickets to anywhere in the continental United States and perhaps a shot at television.
'The David Letterman show usually has the winner on there,' said Allen Dehart, founder of the National Whistling Convention.
The search for the country's best whistler started in January when more than 3,000 people were considered for the contest. Each contestant must perform a classical song and a popular tune.
The competition, with 45 whistlers vying for the grand championship, was about the toughest ever. The judges had to break a three-way tie to award first place, said DeHart.
The competition also attracted its largest audience, he said.
'Now there's a following. People are showing a new respect for whistling as an art form,' said Dehart. 'It is more than that, it is a vocal art form.'
Peter Hassell of New Rochelle, N.Y., was named best supporting male whistler and Mimi Drummond of Horshan, Pa., won best supporting female whistler.