TUSCUMBIA, Ala. - Alabama's rich musical history will hit another high note in a couple of weeks. Four new members will be inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia forever taking their place in our state's ties to the music world.
30 years ago, Alabama voters approved a statewide referendum to build a museum to honor Alabama's music achievers and its musical roots. More than 30,000 people attended the grand opening of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1990.
It’s a place to celebrate our rich musical heritage and honor fellow Alabamians. Dixie Griffin is the manager. “We do our walk of fame where we put bronze stars down and then we have the museum itself but also we do our induction banquet.” She said. There are 74 inductees so far. Griffin added it is “Also the highest honor we can bestow on a music achiever.”
“We’ve got every genre represented here and that’s something that when I bring tours through, it makes me very proud to be able to show,” board member Judy Hood told me. It’s a place where you can walk through and see a suit worn by Hank Williams or walk through one of the country band Alabama’s tour buses.
But despite the exhibits and unique memorabilia, the museum fell on hard times several years ago. “Yes we did,” Griffin said. Then Governor Robert Bentley cut funding from the state budget. ”Jerry, it wasn’t a gradual cut,” Griffin added. “It was just like zero, you out.”
Thankfully they had money in the bank. “So we were able to work on for several years but sooner or later, it kinda caught up with us,” Griffin said. They hit a sour note. “It was real hard on everybody when we closed the doors,” she added.
The museum reopened 9 months later with new exhibits, thanks to donations from folks like "The Civil Wars," Drive by Truckers and Jason Isbell. But the real shot in the arm came with the 2013 release of “Muscle Shoals” a documentary honoring Rick Hall, the founder of Fame Studios.
HOF board member Judy Hood remarked, “That documentary gave a rebirth to the music, especially around here.” When state officials saw it, they knew something had to be done to fund the museum. “They knew that the state’s largest music tourism attraction could not be closed at a time when people from all over the world were going to want to come here to celebrate that,” Hood said.
And some they did. “We have had 34,000 tourists from 40 countries and every state in the union,” Hood added. “40 percent of our visitors are international.” That just proves that music is the universal language. Hood smiled and said, “A rising tide lifts all ships so that documentary benefited not just the Hall of fame but also the local music industry in general.”
The next class of inductees will be honored at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Induction Banquet and awards show February 3rd. It’ll be held at the Marriott Shoals Conference Center in Florence. For ticket information, call the Hall of Fame at (256) 381-4417.