Alabama has been one of the most highly respected and best-loved groups in the world of music and entertainment for more than 25 years. Throughout its career, this foursome has used its musical artistry and creative genius to promote a set of core values, which emphasizes a positive outlook on life, strong work ethic, commitment to family and home, and a spirit of honesty, humility, and gratitude.
The story begins in the late 1960s when Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry, and Jeff Cook first played together in their hometown of Ft. Payne, Alabama. Working their day jobs and playing any place they could locally in the evenings, the boys, known as Wildcountry, used what spare time they had to compose and practice their unique style of harmony. In 1973, band members quit their day jobs and part-time gigs, and left their downhome roots to hone their burgeoning talent on the club scene in coastal South Carolina.
During the ensuing years, the band changed its name to Alabama, added drummer Mark Herndon, and set its sights on Nashville. After an appearance on the New Faces Show that also featured newcomer Reba McEntire, Alabama was offered a recording contract with three major record companies. On April 21, 1980, the group signed with industry giant RCA.
Seemingly overnight, Alabama became a musical sensation and a driving force in country music. The group began taking the genre in new directions and reaching out to an incredibly diverse fan base.
Alabama has used its celebrity to benefit a multitude of worthy causes. Particularly noteworthy is June Jam, the annual music festival in Ft. Payne, which the band conceived in 1982 to support a wide array of local charities and non-profit organizations. Although the concert was discontinued in 1997, its philanthropic impact continues through the Alabama June Jam escrow account and the ongoing June Jam Songwriters Showcase.
Alabama has been honored with more than 150 entertainment awards and is the most honored band in the history of the American Music Awards. In addition, the band has received such distinguished honors as the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, Country Radio Broadcasters’ Humanitarian Award, Minnie Pearl Humanitarian Award, and the B.M.I. President’s Trophy for public service. Fittingly, the band is enshrined in the Alabama Hall of Fame and is one of the inaugural recipients of the “Spirit of Alabama” medal awarded by Gov. Bob Riley.
Ten years after the “Farewell Tour,” Alabama launched its “Back to the Bowery Tour” in 2013 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its first major gig as a house band at the Bowery in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Among the tour stops was Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, the first time ever Alabama performed in the legendary former home of the Grand Ole Opry. The band also celebrated its “40th” with the release of the “Alabama & Friends” tribute album, featuring the band’s first new tracks in more than 10 years, as well as recordings of many of the group’s biggest hits by some of country music’s hottest stars.