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Whether the “Stars Fell On Alabama” as sung by Louis Daniel Armstrong or the state is just plain old “Sweet Home Alabama” as praised by Lynyrd Skynyrd, it is clear that Alabama has something happening with its musical magic. With loads of iconic American musicians, historic landmarks in music tradition, and impressive contemporary strides in genres like indie rock to its name, Alabama is going strong. Read how these attributes make Alabama a great place to immerse in the music.

Alabama is really the sweet home to marvelous musicians in country, soul, folk, and rock.

Although he was alive for only 29 years, singer-songwriter Hank Williams was one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. The likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones have claimed to be influenced by this Mount Olive native.

Lionel Richie, born in Tuskegee, is an Alabaman who grew to superstar status, with his role in the Commodores before becoming a solo artist, becoming a household name with catchy, uplifting tunes like “All Night Long (All Night)” and “Hello.”

Nat “King” Cole of Montgomery lead American popular music by singing, composing, and performing jazz piano. He ultimately sought to flee the extreme racial discrimination of the south, but his time in Alabama was formative, shaping his activist music and developing his musical talents before he embarked on his many famous collaborations across the country with other musicians. He is most known for his ballads and love songs, including “Unforgettable,” “Smile,” and “L-O-V-E.”

Other notable Alabamans include: father of blues W.C. Handy, trumpeter Erskine Hawkins, composer John “Fess” Whatley, country singer Tammy Wynette, country band Alabama, and Motown musicians such as Martha Reeves and The Temptations. What do these musicians of Americana mean for contemporary listeners? Alabama has inspired greatness in the arts across genre. Go to the venues in which they first performed; see the state that inspired their works. It will not disappoint.

In Alabama, historic music landmarks give listeners insight into how music is created, building a greater appreciation for the amazing artists that perform today.

Those reading this list know that listening to music is an incredible experience. But, learning how music is made? That brings the music to a whole new level of fascination. Alabama has several notable historical music landmarks, music museums, and recording studios that give listeners a glimpse into this process. The FAME Tour at the Florence and Muscle Shoals recording studio in Alabama is one of these places. This studio was known as a studio with a distinctive sound of blues, rock, gospel soul, and country. The likes of Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Bob Seger, and Paul Simon recorded there. The tour includes a look at the instruments and recording equipment used by these stars. For those seeking a live experience, stop next door to the birthplace of W.C. Handy, the father of blues, where a music festival is held every July to honor his contributions to music.

Alabama is where indie rock festers.

Sometimes, a single venue can shape the trajectory of community, state, and—in some cases—country. It defines a place and a mood. CBGB and Studio54 are some of those places. Alabama has one of its own: Bottletree. As explained by researchers at City Lab, although it is difficult to measure the economic value of a venue, it is clear that “every venue is a major ambassador for their given city.” When three Birmingham natives—a musician, a painter, and a chef—gathered to make Bottletree, they might not have known this. Since opening, they have pulled in critically acclaimed artists that may have avoided Alabama completely for more bustling southern music cities. Yet, with Bottletree’s success, musicians such as TV on the Radio, Animal Collective, PHOX, and Joanna Newsome perform for Alabamans. The musician in Bottletree’s management trio knows what it is like to be a performing artist, so the joint is able to offer a supreme experience to performers and listeners alike that keep people coming back. These features include homecooked food, thrift store and mid-century Gothic designs, and trailers filled with amenities like videogames, DVDs, and toiletries. When its not hosting national and regional hits, Bottletree gives local acts the stage. They know the value of what is at home in their community. With the dramatic influence of Bottletree, indie, rock, and alternative music has taken off in Alabama. There is an active, engaged audience for it. So, for listeners seeking that type of sound and a high-quality listening experience, Alabama is the place to be.

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