The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will explore the lives and careers of award-winning country music group Alabama in Alabama: Song of the South. The exhibition, which opens Aug. 25, 2016, and runs through July 16, 2017, will detail the group’s journey to success through childhood mementos, musical instruments, tour memorabilia, awards, photographs, and more.
In conjunction with the exhibit, the Museum will publish an exhibit companion book, which will be available for purchase in the Museum Store starting August 25, 2016.
Exhibition highlights include:
- Jeff Cook’s first electric guitar, a 1960s Silvertone U-1, that he played in his first band
- Randy Owen’s Music Man Sting Ray I, used to write hits such as “Mountain Music.” and played by Brad Paisley when he recorded his tribute to the group, “Old Alabama”
- Original, handwritten manuscript for “Born Country,” by Byron Hill and John Schweers
- Table-top radio that belonged to Teddy Gentry’s grandfather, “Paw Paw,” on which Gentry heard country music growing up
- Numerous awards, including Grammy, ACM, and CMA trophies presented to Alabama
Gibson J-50 acoustic guitar that belonged to Randy Owen’s father, used by Owen on early recordings
- Brocade suit, one of Jeff Cook’s first stage costumes.
- Fringed suede shirt, given to Gentry by William Lee Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys at Alabama’s first June Jam, 1982.
“Their songs are some of the most memorable in country music. Their musical talents are monumental. The longevity of their career speaks volumes,” said Museum CEO Kyle Young. “We’re thrilled to welcome these Country Music Hall of Fame members into their home, the museum, and to share their story through this exhibition.”
Alabama: Song of the South will trace the musical beginnings, trials and successes of the band. Cousins Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry, and Randy Owen formed their first band 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 at 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 loved bands in the country, in any genre, scoring dozens of chart-topping singles, selling tens of millions of albums, and setting concert attendance records.
The band widened country’s appeal to young listeners and earned an array of awards, including CMA Entertainer of the Year honors for 1982, 1983, and 1984. Alabama was named Artist of the Decade, for the 1980s, by the ACM. By 1993 Alabama had released thirty-two #1 Billboard singles for RCA, including “Mountain Music,” “Dixieland Delight,” “Love in the First Degree,” “Song of the South,” and other classics, often referencing their Southern roots.
They were among the first crossover country acts to play large performance venues, incorporating arena-rock-style production and stage movements 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.
Alabama joined the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Founding members Cook, Gentry, and Owen continue to record and tour. In 2014 Alabama returned to its Southern gospel roots with Angels Among Us: Hymns & Gospel Favorites, earning a Dove award from the Gospel Music Association. Last year Alabama reached #2 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart with Southern Drawl, their first album of new material since 2001.
For more information about the exhibit, visit www.countrymusichalloffame.org