ALABAMA: SONG OF THE SOUTH EXHIBIT OPENS AUG 25 COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF
FAME AND MUSEUM
This exhibit traces the musical beginnings, the challenges, and the successes of the Country Music Hall of Fame band. Cousins Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry, and Randy Owen formed their first group as teenagers in small-town Fort Payne, Alabama. For a decade, the band honed its unique, crowd-pleasing blend of country music and Southern rock, playing nightclubs in the Southeast. In 1979, the group recruited Massachusetts-born Mark Herndon to become their drummer, and the band signed with RCA in 1980. Alabama would go on to become one of the most beloved bands in the country, scoring over 40 chart-topping singles, selling more than 70 million albums worldwide and setting concert attendance records.
Alabama were trailblazers, performing as a band. At the time, in country music, this was revolutionary. They were true to themselves, the same whether on or off the stage, performing in jeans and sneakers. Their rocking guitars and harmony-based vocals proved immensely influential and popular. Alabama’s sound widened country’s appeal to young listeners. The band has earned many industry awards, including CMA Entertainer of the Year honors for 1982, 1983 and 1984. Alabama was named ACM’s Artist of the Decade, for the 1980s. By 1993 the group had released 32 #1 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, including “Mountain Music,” “Dixieland Delight,” “Love in the First Degree,” “Song of the South,” and other classics, often referencing their Southern roots.
Alabama was among the first crossover country acts to play large performance venues, incorporating arena-rock-style production and sounds into their shows. Singing, playing their instruments and writing many of their songs, Alabama inspired a trend toward the formation and promotion of other self-contained bands in country music.