Muscle Shoals’ History Embraces All Types of Music

Long before the superstars of the 1960s and ’70s came to Muscle Shoals to record hit songs with the country’s best musicians, music was an integral part of the lives of those who lived here starting in prehistoric times.

Legend says that the Yuchie Tribe called the Tennessee River “the singing river” because the flowing waters sounded like a woman singing.  The Yuchies and other American Indian tribes including the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws and Chickasaws incorporated music into religious rituals, social customs and commerce. They handmade their own musical instruments for entertainment and for use in trade dealings.

Many of the white settlers who moved into the region in the late 18th and early 19th centuries were of Scots-Irish descent. These settlers brought their Celtic traditions to their new home and made the fiddle a centerpiece of entertainment at dances and in contests.

African slaves who were brought in to work on the plantations brought the banjo along with traditional African music including chants, field hollers and songs of spiritual hope.

By the 19th century, many of these traditions blended to create new musical sounds and styles that still paid tribute to their origins.

Click on any of the links to learn more about Muscle Shoals’ musical history and some of the people who influenced America’s love for a wide variety of musical styles and sounds.


Songs on YouTube

Arthur Alexander
“You Better Move On”

Jimmy Hughes
“Steal Away”

James and Bobby Purify
“I’m Your Puppet”

Wilson Pickett
“Mustang Sally”

Aretha Franklin
“I Never Loved a Man”

Etta James
“Tell Mama”
(The Complete Muscle Shoals Sessions)

The Staple Singers
“I’ll Take You There”

Bob Seger
“Old Time Rock and Roll”

Rolling Stones
“Wild Horses”

The Osmonds
“One Bad Apple”

Millie Jackson
“Hurts So Good”

Candi Staton
“I’m Just a Prisoner (Of Your Good Lovin’)”

Bob Dylan
“Slow Train Coming”
(Interview with Jerry Wexler about producing the record)

Paul Simon