The Heart of Dixie. Sweet Home Alabama. The Deep South may never shake a reputation for assbackwards thinking from the days of plantations and more modern associations with political figures such as the Governor George Wallace who waged war against desegregation in the 1960s. It set the table for a strange dichotomy of early roots in both blues and country and at times a frankensteined delivery of equal parts. Two of the best of whose careers were born here wear the name proudly on their sleeves. The legendary gospel band The Blind Boys of Alabama (who to this very day are still the highlight of many blues and folk festivals) and the recently emergent Alabama Shakes whose powerhouse vocalist Brittany Howard has the goods to bring tears to your eyes with her live and in-studio perfomances. The band is equally impressive.
There is a lineage of influential industry luminaries - the Father of the Blues, W.C. Handy, Sun Records' Sam Phillips and the founder of Atlantic Records, Jerry Wexler
Early soul singer Arthur Alexander had his 45s passed around London and Liverpool and was highly influential in the British Invasion's formative years. As Motown and soul ruled supreme, Alabama natives represented well in Martha Reeves (Dancing In The Street), Percy Sledge (When A Man Loves A Woman) and Eddie Floyd, (Knock On Wood.) They created some of the era's most epic and lasting recordings.
The religious roots deep being the home of Sacred Harp music. The holy-rolling Louvin Brothers were major influence on Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris and their dual harmonies. They were veterans of the sibling wars long before anyone beared witness to the antics of The Kinks' Dave & Ray Davies or better yet, Noel & Liam Gallagher of Oasis. Hard drinkin' broke up this family. Their legacy was kept alive by Gram & Emmylou (Cash On The Barrelhead) and The Byrds ( The Christian Life.)
Can't forget about the Southern Gentleman, Sonny James. The coolest thing he ever did was his rendition of The Cat Came Back.
The home of the elite modern recording studios in tiny town of Sheffield - Muscle Shoals. The Swampers were studio musicians on par with LA's Wrecking Crew and the crack unit at Memphis' Stax Records. Aretha Franklin (I Never Loved a Man), The Staple Singers (I'll Take You There), Rolling Stones (Wild Horses) and where Rod Stewart covered Danny Whitten's I Don't Want To Talk About It. Still churning out important recordings. The Black Keys and Band of Horses.
The finest act of alt-country-Americana movement spent time opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd and rumored to be one of the loudest modern live bands - the Drive By Truckers. Songwriting team of Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley spawn of the clan of Texas swing great Spade Cooley. Guitarist Jason Isbell has left for a successful 2015 year.
TRENDING: Shelly Colvin, Holly Williams.