MSNHA receives state arts grant

By  | January 6, 2018 | Filed under: News

THE SHOALS-The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area has received a $2,800 grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts to continue recording oral histories about Muscle Shoals music.

“The Muscle Shoals sound coming out of recording studios in northwest Alabama in the 1960s changed American music,” said Carrie Barske, MSNHA interim director. “While the stories of artists such as Aretha Franklin and the Rolling Stones who came here to record are fascinating, the stories of music makers who lived here and worked and recorded in the Shoals studios—and still do—help answer the question ‘Why Muscle Shoals?’”

A first round of oral histories, funded by the state arts council in 2014, is available on MSNHA’s Roots of American Music Trail website, Also on the website is information about the Roots of American Music cellphone trail, which takes visitors to historically significant music sites, and details on performances and concerts and other northwest Alabama music news.

Barske hopes the state arts grant will help add 20 interviews to the almost-30 already produced, she said.

MSNHA is partnering with the University of North Alabama Public History Center and the Florence Fine Arts Academy on the additional interviews, which also will be featured on the RAMT website.

“Brian Dempsey, director of the history center, is a music historian and will help develop the interview questions and biographies,” Barske said. “And Randy Bruce, digital media teacher at the academy, will work with his high school media students to record the interviews and produce the videos.”

Lori Reynolds, MSNHA graduate assistant, and Brian Corrigan, UNA Archives and Special Collections graduate assistant, will assist with the interview process and development of new content for the RAMT website. Judy Sizemore, MSNHA special projects manager, will coordinate the project.

The MSNHA was designated by Congress in 2009 as part of the National Park Service’s efforts to recognize culturally significant areas. The MSNHA spans the Tennessee River basin counties of Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan and focuses on the Tennessee River, music and Native American heritage.

For more information on MSNHA, visit

Media Release/Cathy Wood, media coordinator & grants administrator/Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area

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