“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Muscle Shoals in Colbert County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)

The Singing River Sculpture

In Muscle Shoals, Alabama

The Singing River Sculpture Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, June 19, 2016
1. The Singing River Sculpture Marker
Inscription.  This sculpture is dedicated to the many individuals whose efforts made Muscle Shoals and the Muscle Shoals area the “Hit Recording Capital of the World,” and to those who continue that legacy.

Legend of the Singing River
The Yuchi and other early inhabitants living along the banks of the mighty Tennessee River held the legend of a Spirit Woman who lived in the river. She protected and sang to them. When the river was angry, she sang loudly. When the river was peaceful, she sang softly and sweetly, sometimes humming a comforting lullaby. Some say that all they heard was the high waters mighty rush and roar over the mussel shoals, or at other times, the calm low waters babbling through the river rocks. Other say she is real and can still be seen in the early morning mist, hovering over the waters, just as she did those many years ago. In her honor, they called it the Singing River, and in her honor, we named these sculptures the Singing River Sculptures.

The World-changing Muscle Shoals Music
From throughout the 20th century to the present, Muscle Shoals area artists, musicians, songwriters
The Singing River Sculpture Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, June 19, 2016
2. The Singing River Sculpture Marker
and music-industry professionals have helped shape the world’s expansive music heritage. Few styles of music were untouched by Muscle Shoals, and local contributions have been made in all other areas of the complex industry: producers, recording engineers, songwriters, music publishers, and other positions in the music business.

Many of the world’s greatest performers began their ascent to stardom in Muscle Shoals, and artists, such as Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, the Staple Singers, Bob Seger, along with many others, quickly created a legacy which earned the area the title, “Hit Recording Capitol of the World.”

The area grew as a music center by drawing together people of all races and religions. In the 1960s, despite the segregation of the races enforced outside the studios, great soul classics were being created in the studios with each musician contributing his innate musical talent. The collaborations created some of the most widely loved music of the 20th century, including Steal Away, Mustang Sally, Tell Mama, Patches, Respect Yourself, and many others.

The warning issued in Arthur Alexander’s, You Better Move On, got the attention of the Rolling Stones. The Beatles heard Alexander’s song, Anna, and each band acknowledged their respect for Alexander and his writing by recording their version of his songs
Constellium image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, June 19, 2016
3. Constellium
Constellium is a global, sector, leader, strongly committed to designing and manufacturing innovative and high valued added aluminum product and solutions for a broad range of applications dedicated primarily to aerospace, automotive, and packaging markets. The history of Constellium dates almost as far back as the commercial production of aluminum, and our know-how today has grown out of the expertise of Pechiney, Alusuisse, allan, and Wise Metals. Constellium’s plant, located in Muscle Shoals, is extremely proud to be a part of the Shoals community and pleased to have contributed all the recycled aluminum as the artistic medium for the Singing River Sculptures and the Singing River Sculpture Garden.

The Shoals began its long heritage as an aluminum manufacturing community with the construction of the Reynolds facility in April 1941. The facility was purposed for the Defense Plant Corporation, a federal agency. Incredibly, just three months later, the first ingot was rolled on the hotline. At that time, our country was just beginning to recover from the Great Depression. The construction and opening of the plant created much-needed jobs in our community. The selection of the site in the Shoals area was primarily due to the abundant electrical power created by the Tennessee Valley Authority and the dam system along the Tennessee River. Initially, the facility produced aluminum to support the World War II effort. 2014
on their first albums.

The songwriting tradition continues as one of the strongest facets of Muscle Shoals music, with area songwriters penning songs such as, I Loved Her First, I Swear, Blown Away, Before He Cheats, and hundreds of other hits over the decades.

The heart and soul of Muscle Shoals music has always been the players and singers. Four members of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section were immortalized in the Lynyrd Skynyrd song, Sweet Home Alabama. The lyric, “Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers, and they’ve been known to pick a song or two,” honors Jimmy Johnson, Barry Beckett, David Hood,and Roger Hawkins, studio musicians who produced and played on hundreds of hits recorded at area studios from the late 1960s until the mid-1980s.

Muscle Shoals and Its Contribution to this Golden Era
Muscle Shoals bestowed much more than its name on the world-famous “Muscle Shoals sound.”

The city served as the birthplace for early breakthroughs in the local music industry and later provided a home base for some of the area’s top studios. The first commercial recording to emerge from Muscle Shoals — the Bobby Denton single, A Fallen Star — was produced by James Joiner in the Second Street studios of WLAY Radio in 1957. Four years later in an old candy-and-tobacco warehouse on
The Singing River Sculpture image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, June 19, 2016
4. The Singing River Sculpture
The people of Muscle Shoals and the Shoals express their heartfelt gratitude to these generous individuals, businesses, and organizations whose love for our legendary Muscle Shoals music has made this Singing River Sculpture possible. Private donor contributions of at least $1,000 First Metro Bank Muscles Shoals Civilian Club Harbors Chemicals Inc TN Valley Printing Co Public sector donor contributions of at least $1,000 Colbert County Solid Waste Authority City of Muscle Shoals The City of Muscle Shoals, Alabama David H. Bradford, Mayor 2014
Wilson Dam Road, aspiring producer Rick Hall joined forces with bellhop-turned-singer Arthur Alexander to cut Muscle Shoals’ first national hit, the Southern Soul anthem, You Better Move On. In the wake of that success, Hall built FAME Recording Studios on Avalon Avenue in 1962. Artists ranging from Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, and Etta James to Duane Allman, the Osmonds, and Bobby Gentry later recorded there. From 1970 to 1985, Muscle Shoals became known as “The Hit Recording Capital of the World” as FAME and Al Cartee’s Music Mill, Steve Moore’s East Avalon, and Terry Woodford and Clayton Ivey’s Wishbone Studios generated hits by Clarence Carter, Hank Williams Jr., the group Hot, George Jones, the Forester Sisters, Mac McAnally, Shenandoah, and many others. In 2011 Hall received the American Music Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2014 he was awarded the Grammy Trustees Award for significant contribution to the recording industry.

The City of Muscle Shoals, Alabama
David Bradford, Mayor
Audwin Pierre McGee, Sculptor
Historical commentary by Terry Pace, Dick Cooper, David Anderson, and Bill Matthews.

Rick Hall and Duane Allman c. 1968 (FAME)
FAME Studios at 601 E. Avalon Avenue (Photo furnished by FAME)
East Avalon Studios (Photo furnished by Dick Cooper)
James Joiner and Bobby Denton
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
at WLAY Radio Studio (Photo furnished by Bobby Denton)
Muscle Shoals City sign proclaiming it the Hit Recording Capital of the World (Photo furnished by FAME)
Wishbone Studios (Photo furnished by Terry Woodford)
FAME Studio at old Candy and Tobacco Warehouse (Photo furnished by FAME)
Erected 2014.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EntertainmentNotable Events. In addition, it is included in the Grammy Award Winners 🎶, and the The Beatles 🎶 series lists.
Location. 34° 44.656′ N, 87° 38.732′ W. Marker is in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in Colbert County. Marker is at the intersection of Avalon Avenue and Brown Street, on the left when traveling west on Avalon Avenue. Standing in the parking lot of the Muscle Shoals Library. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1918 Avalon Ave, Muscle Shoals AL 35661, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. History of Muscle Shoals, Alabama (approx. 0.2 miles away); Howell & Graves School (approx. 0.9 miles away); 101 Memorial (approx. 2½ miles away); Forest Elders (approx. 2.6 miles away); Old Railroad Bed (approx. 2.7 miles away); Sheffield Colored School/Sterling High School
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
(approx. 2.8 miles away); Old Railroad Bridge (approx. 2.8 miles away); Tuscumbia's Oakwood Cemetery (approx. 3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Muscle Shoals.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 21, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 20, 2016, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. This page has been viewed 484 times since then and 11 times this year. Last updated on February 21, 2021, by Carl Gordon Moore Jr. of North East, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 20, 2016, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.
Paid Advertisement
Mar. 2, 2021