Who sold more records than any other artist of the ‘80s? Who had 21 straight number one singles? Who had ten multi-platinum albums? Alabama is arguably one of the most popular country groups in history. Formed in Fort Payne, Alabama in 1969, cousins, Randy Owen (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Teddy Gentry (bass guitar, vocals), and Jeff Cook (lead guitar, fiddle, keyboards) had their roots under the name Young Country, initially winning first prize at a high school talent contest, then onto writing their own songs, including My Home’s in Alabama, followed by touring the Southeast bar circuit. In 1977, they changed their name to Alabama, signed their first record deal with GRT, and debut their single I Wanna Be With You Tonight. The cousins may have had a slow start, but took no time at all to change the face of country music. The 1980s brought the most success to Alabama, with the domino effect of number one singles, beginning with Tennessee River. There is no denying that Alabama is a country band, but a closer look will reveal a blend of traditional country music, southern rocks, and elements of gospel and pop music. With so many relatable songs, I have trouble picking a favorite, but I will never forget the lasting impression and unspoken solitude Angel’s Among Us had on my mother with its ageless wisdom, “To show us how to live, to teach us how to give to guide us with the light of love.” Nor will I ever forget my roots when Born Country brings me back to childhood, full of vivid memories, happiness, and home, “Moonlight and you hear beside me. Crickets serenadin' in the yard.” Let us not mention how Mountain Music affected the grandparents, proof that Alabama is timeless, youthful, energetic, reaching folks of all ages. Decades later, it is no surprise that this legendary band has sold 73 million albums, have been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and have a spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
With 40 years of success in the books, in 2013, Alabama released Alabama & Friends, a tribute album, commemorating the lasting role the band has had on generations of country super stars. Some of the biggest country stars are featured on the album, each adding their own style to an Alabama classic that most influenced them. Jason Aldean enlivens Tennessee River, Eli Young Band loosens up The Closer You Get, and Toby Keith hardens She and I. Other contributors include Luke Bryan, Kenney Chesney, Florida Georgia Line, Jamey Johnson, Rascal Flatts, and Trisha Yearwood. The album also features two new Alabama tracks, both classic but relevant originals, That’s How I Was Raised, highlighting their unforgettable harmonies and All American, showcasing the band’s writing ability, a ballet to our great country. It is apparent from the new Alabama album, the legacy of their songs remains part of music history, as fresh now as it was in the ‘80s. There is no arguing that Alabama released classic songs that stand the test of time, songs that everyone, of any age, can appreciate and sing along to. Be part of Alabama’s legacy this Friday when they perform on the Main Stage!