News / Arts & Entertainment

'Muscle Shoals' Documentary Tells Story of Small-Town Recording Studio

Film Tells Story of Small-Town Recording Studioi
X
March 28, 2013 1:38 PM
Some of the world's biggest hit records from the 1960s onward came from a recording studio in a little town in northern Alabama called Muscle Shoals. Aretha Franklin, Percy Sledge, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and many others recorded there and still do. A new documentary that tells the story of Muscle Shoals recently played at the South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, where VOA's Greg Flakus prepared this report.

Film Tells Story of Small-Town Recording Studio

Greg Flakus
— Some of the world's biggest hit records from the 1960s onward came from a recording studio in a little town in northern Alabama called Muscle Shoals. Aretha Franklin, Percy Sledge, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and many others recorded there and still do. A new documentary that tells the story of Muscle Shoals recently played at the South By Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.

Muscle Shoals, population 13,000, sits on the Tennessee River, "the river that sings," according to Native American legend.

Over the past 50 years, some of the world's top musicians have made hit records in Muscle Shoals.

"This is a rural spot in rural America, whereas when you think of other music meccas in America, they are more urban-based," explains filmmaker Greg Camalier.

It started with the vision and determination of Rick Hall, says Camalier.  Hall started FAME studios in Muscle Shoals in the late 1950s.

"His first hit was a song by a local bellhop at the hotel there, and it was a guy named Arthur Alexander, and he recorded the song "You Better Move On," said Camalier.

Using old films and photos, the documentary shows how Hall developed a unique sound based on skilled studio engineering and the support of local talent, regardless of race. 

At a time when Alabama Governor George Wallace was fighting efforts to end racial segregation, black and white musicians in this corner of the state were working together, producing huge hits.

"As their songs became cutting-edge songs down there, people were hearing them around the world and were like 'I want that sound,'" said Camalier.

The British rock group, The Rolling Stones, also came to Muscle Shoals. Camalier interviewed Mick Jagger and Keith Richards for the film. "It was pretty funky, that was the whole idea of it," recalled Jagger.

By that time Rick Hall's in-house musicians had started their own studio in Muscle Shoals, and today there are several in town.

The film tells that story and others that local people have been excited to learn about. 

"They had a screening of the film down there, and now people are embracing their past, their heritage and are learning more about it," said Camalier.

Muscle Shoals is now in movie theaters and will be broadcast on public television in the United States.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller has made a name for herself appearing with such high-profile artists as Beyonce, Esperanza Spalding, and Terri Lyne Carrington. Tia and her quartet performed music from her CD “Angelic Warrior” on our latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."