Alabama is a state reverberating with the echoes of the big voices that it has homed, from those who contributed to its rich music legacy to those that played a hugely influential role in the American Civil Rights Movement of the past century. The result: a wealth of cultural history waiting to be explored. And when you’re looking for authentic musical experiences, you can’t do much better than these:
Celebrated for its music scene, what better way to experience Alabama than by paying a visit to the studios which produced the tunes themselves? FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals is still an active recording studio and birthplace of Aretha Franklin’s “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” and “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” – to name but a few of the hits that passed through its famed doors.
FIND YOUR JAZZ HANDS
For a true Alabama musical education, head to the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, Birmingham. This art-deco museum honours the great jazz artists who have ties to the region. Exhibits convey the accomplishments of the likes of Nat King Cole, Lionel Hampton, Erskine Hawkins – and the music that made them famous. Along with jazz memorabilia such as paintings, quilts, instruments, and personal effects of such artists as Ella Fitzgerald and W.C. Handy, the tour experience itself is guided by Frank Adams. If you have the chance, see a live sessions at the hall’s Carver Theatre, which has previously hosted jazz legends such as Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton.
GET YOUR GROOVE ON
From authentic juke joints to basement jazz clubs, music lives in Alabama and you’ll never be more than a stone’s throw from a venue of some description. For an authentic Alabama experience, head on over to Ona’s Music room, Birmingham, to discover an intimate, brick-walled local nightspot offering live jazz music throughout the week.