Year of Alabama Music kicks off

By Alan Collins

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The Year of Alabama Music kicked off today in Birmingham at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame as Jimmy Reed from Dothan played with the Steve Miller Band. Reed also performed along with jazz musician Eric Essix.

Rick Hall, the founder of the Fame Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals says many people don't know the state's music history. He says artists like Aretha Franklin and the Rolling Stones kept a low profile and went unnoticed in North Alabama.

"People know more about our music and what we do in London, England or Japan than people in the city of Muscle Shoals," Rick Hall said.

Alabama is also home to music legends Hank Williams, Nat King Cole, W.C. Handy, Jimmy Buffett and Lionel Richie.

"Music runs deep in Alabama. It's in our dirt, it's in our soul. This is an opportunity to learn what is going on in Alabama," Dough Platt of the Blues Project stated.

The Alabama Department of Tourism will be pushing a commercial to lure people to 100 places to hear live music in Alabama.

"What we think it will do is bring more tourists and vacationers into the state. They will be coming here to experience what they never thought about before but what has always been here," Grey Brennan, with the Department of Tourism said.

The Year of Alabama music is expected to draw more tourists to Alabama, but folks in the music industry believe if the state invests more dollars into the promotional campaign beyond 2011, it could lead to a big payoff.

"If we could get funding from the state it would be important to our people and to the country," Platt said.

The campaign also calls for a song writer contest to find future music legends. For more information on the Year of Alabama Music and the contest go to their website,