MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (WHNT) – The Shoals has gained international attention after a movie came out earlier this year documenting the area’s rich music history.
For years it has been a music mecca, and now a whole new audience is learning about the bands born and bred in Florence and Muscle Shoals, and the artists who have recorded at the historic FAME Studios through the decades.
Debbie Wilson, The Florence-Lauderdale Director of Tourism, says musicians are drawn to the funky Muscle Shoals sound, inspired by the Tennessee River.
“We say that the Native Americans called it the ‘singing river’,” said Wilson. “Y’know, when you’re sitting there listening to the water rush over the rocks you can imagine what it was like then and I really think that’s where the funky vibe comes in. we call it the funky magic of the Muscle shoals Sound.”
That sound has inspired artists for decades. Artists like Cher, Elvis, Etta James, Jason Isbell, The Drive By Truckers, Alabama Shakes, the Civil Wars, and the Osmond Brothers…just to name a few.
“Donny Osmond and the Osmonds were the heartthrob of my youth,” said Wilson. “To find out later that they were recording just a few miles from where I was drove me crazy!”
Wilson says after the documentary about the Shoals music scene released in January, tourists have come from all over the world. They’ve been featured in approximately 60 magazines, newspapers, and news sites. Thursday night, artists from Muscle Shoals were featured on Late Night with David Letterman.
It is all publicity Wilson says is invaluable.
“We don’t have a huge budget to buy advertising, so the publicity like the Letterman show? we couldn’t buy that. Ever.”
Wilson says just since the documentary release, they have had tourists visit from as far as the United Kingdom and Australia. She hopes as the Muscle Shoals name becomes commonplace among music aficionados, more artists and tourists will flock to the small town in north Alabama.