Muscle Shoals has always been a hotbed for music—thanks to FAME Records and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, both of which attracted artists like The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Staples Singers, Otis Redding and Paul Simon, who traveled to Alabama just to get a little of that “Muscle Shoals Sound.”
But save for local studio musicians who helped create that trademark sound, and favorite son Sam Phillips, who went on to create the famed Sun Records in Memphis and subsequently effectively creating Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, Muscle Shoals wasn’t producing a lot of home-grown talent.
That is no longer the case.
In recent years there has been a steady stream of talent coming out of the area. Drive-By Truckers, Jason Isbell, Anderson East, Secret Sisters and the now defunct The Civil Wars. And though The Civil Wars are no more, half of the duo, John Paul White, will hit The State Room on Sunday night.
A little background: Born in Muscle Shoals, but raised in Loretto, Tennessee, White already had a solo career when he teamed up with Joy Williams at a song writing workshop in Nashville in 2010. The pair won a few Grammys, but split in 2014. In 2015, White paired up to record the song “Kyrie” with Emmylou Harris and has a new album, Beulah, slated to come out in mid-August.
Beulah was recorded at FAME Records, and in the single that has been released there is still a hint of The Civil Wars Southern-folk but the overall feel is grittier and bluesier. In other words—it’s pure Muscle Shoals.
John Paul White plays the State Room on Sunday July 31 at 9 p.m.. Tickets are still available.