Days Gone By - stories from the past

There is musical talent in Alabama genes. Do you know names to add to this list?


Hank Williams, Sr.

Music runs deep in Alabama genes. I thought it would be fun to make a list of Alabamians that made it to the international spotlight for their music.

It is astonishing that Alabama defied the odds and had three finalists on American Idol  during the 13th season.

jasper alabama
Jasper, Alabama

The American Idol contenders in the 13th season were:

Jess Meuse from Slapout, C. J. Harris from Jasper and Dexter Roberts from Fayette, Alabama . All three contenders were from small towns in Alabama less than 150 miles from each other. When you consider that over 100,000 people auditioned for American Idol, it was really amazing that so many were from so small an area.

fayette county courthouse
Fayette County Courthouse

Note: This wasn’t the only time Holtville High where Jess Meuse attended in Slapout, has reached international fame as the following story reveals, An amazing story about how a small Alabama school became known worldwide.  

Holtville High School, Slapout, Alabama
Holtville High School, Slapout, Alabama

I thought it would be fun to make a list of Alabamians that made it to the international spotlight for their music.

Skyline farms - musicians2

Skyline farms band, in the picture above,Walter Holt to the left, and Chester Allen on the right, the Skyline farms band performed for The President in Washington DC in 1938, they were the first band to do this kind of music, and song and the square team also took to the stage on the white house lawn with them.

Email additional names that should be on the list to [email protected]  Be sure to include biography information with links revealing their international fame. All musicians included must have reached international status.

Most of the ones below are from  Encyclopedia of Alabama listed and they are in no particular order:

  1. Hank Williams, Sr.
  2. Hank Williams, Jr.
  3. The Band Alabama
  4. Percy Sledge
  5. Cathryn Antoinette “Toni” Tennille
  6. Erskine Hawkins
  7. Adele “Vera” Hall Ward
  8. Delmore Brothers
  9. Nat King Cole
  10. William “W. C” Handy
  11. Blind Boys of Alabama
  12. Eddie Hinton
  13. Jerry “Boogie” McCain
  14. George “Wild Child” Butler
  15. Louvin Brothers
  16. Arthur Alexander
  17. Man or Astroman? – see guitar at Hallmark Guitars
  18. Dan Penn
  19. Johnny Sandlin
  20. The Speer family
  21. The Commodores
  22. Herman Blount (Sun Ra)
  23. James Reese Europe
  24. The Swampers – Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (MSRS) 
  25. Wilson Pickett
  26. Emmylou Harris
  27. Denson Brothers
  28. Jimmy Buffett
  29. Lionel Hampton
  30. Eddie Kendricks
  31. Cleo “Big Bo” McGee
  32. Donnie Fritts
  33. Jake Hess
  34. Drive-by Truckers
  35. Spooner Oldham
  36. Sam Phillips
  37. Lionel Richie
  38. Charlie Stripling
  39. Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thorton
  40. Sonny James (James Hugh Loden)
  41. Ottokar Cadek
  42. Dinah Washington
  43. Alabama Shakes 
  44. Thomas Clanton Calloway
  45. Taylor Hicks
  46. Jess Meuse
  47. Ruben Studdard
  48. Diana DeGarmo
  49. Davis Eli “David” Ruffin 
  50. Nell Rankin
  51. Wendy Holcomb-Blosser
  52. Jeanne Pruett
  53. Vestal Goodman
  54. Bobby Goldsboro
  55. Vernon Derrick
  56. Melba Montgomery
  57. Gordon Terry
  58. Mark Harris
  59. Vern Gosdin
  60. Roger Murrah
  61. William Lee Golden
  62. Jamey Johnson
  63. Bobby Edwards
  64. Bobby Tomberlin
  65. Bo Bice

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Exploration: Lost & Forgotten Stories (Volume 1) is a collection of lost and forgotten stories about the people and history of Alabama.



    1. I forgot about them. Thank you for including them. Donna

      1. What about Bobby Horton? He played in the band Three on a String, and he has provided music for many of Ken Burns’ documentaries.

  1. Not surprised that 3 of the last 13 winners were from Alabama! Look at the number of top 10 finalists from Alabama and Mississippi in the Miss America pageant! Most were also singers.

  2. […] Fayette is about an hour’s drive from Jasper,  the home C. J. Harris, another of the three Alabama finalists in the top nine. Both Fayette and Jasper are around 150 miles from Slapout, Alabama, home of the third Alabama contestant, Jessica Meuse. […]

  3. […] Alabama has always had quite a number of musicians who have captured the international spotlight and I won’t name them all again since you can see a list  I’m compiling in a recent blog. […]

  4. Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderrful post.
    Thanks for providing this information.

  5. Percy Sledge, Leighton, AL

  6. David Ruffin from “The Temptations”.

  7. There were names on this list that were surprising to me.

  8. Always believed Tammy Wynette was from Red Bay, know different now!

  9. Tommy Shaw, Freddie Hart, Jamey Johnson, Bobby Goldsboro, Wilson Pickett, Clarence Carter, many others.

  10. Skyline farms band, in the picture above,Walter Holt to the left, and my dad Chester Allen on the right,the Skyline farms band performed for The President in Washington DC in 1938, they were the first band to do this kind of music, and song and the square team also took to the stage on the white house lawn with them.

    1. Thank you for identifying the people in the picture and adding additional information. We wrote a series of stories about Skyline Farms with photographs some time back. I bet you recognize all the people in the pictures.

  11. Toni Tenille, of “The Captain and Tennille,” from Montgomery.

  12. Jenni Pruett Pell City

  13. I see one blaring “left out” musician….Dean Daughtry from Kinston, AL. Dean is an excellent keyboard player and vocalist who worked with the Candymen when they were Roy Orbison’s backup band. Later, he was a member of the Classics IV with such hits as Spooky, Stormy, Traces and Everyday With You Girl. Dean moved on to play with the Atlanta Rhythm Section with such songs as Doraville, Champagne Jam and Imaginary Lover. Dean is still with the Atlanta Rhythm Section.

  14. Caleb Johnson who won American idol 13 his family is from muscle shoals ALABAMA

    1. Wikipedia says he is from North Carolina.

    2. Yes he is but his father is from ALABAMA that the connection i was making .

  15. The one and only Hank Williamsfrom Montgomery I believe Sonny James Hackleburg .! Jake Hess Haleyville.!!

    1. I missed the list.!! Would love to see it.!!!

      1. Click on the picture and you will see the list after the film.

  16. Willard Whitaker, fiddle, Huntsville AL

  17. Jeanne Pruett (Satin Sheets) – Pell City., Vestal Goodman (The Happy Goodman’s-Fyfe. , Vernon Derrick (Member Country Music hall of Fame-Fiddle)., Arab.

  18. What about Lionel Ritchie,Alabama Shakes,the band Alabama, Hank Williams Jr.

    1. All but Hank Williams, Jr. are on the list. I don;t know how I forgot him.

  19. Melba Montgomery was born in Tenn but grew up in Florence.

  20. Mark Harris of the Christian group 4HIM, the group TRUTH directed by Roger Breland, and in there somewhere you must include the company Integrity. These people impacted the world with music, all from Mobile.

  21. Wendy Holcomb-Blosser ~ banjo picker from Alabaster, Alabama who became a Grand Ole Opry star at age 13.

  22. William Lee Golden – The Oak Ridge Boys

  23. Alabama Pioneers, my grandfather Curtis L. Stewart from #Jasper, #Alabama, wrote and had published over 200 songs in a 70 year #songwriting career that started in 1935. His most famous song was recorded in 19 different languages and by greats like Charley Pride, Bill Monroe, and Alabama’s own Hank Williams.

    He was a #WWII #Veteran, and sadly lost the copyright to his song for many years while others collected the profits in it’s best years. He later got the copyright back. He passed away in 2005, and I, along with some relatives are attempting to get him recognized for his contributions to #music in this state.

    Visit our page at and help us get the attention of the Alabama’s Music Hall of Fame.

  24. Hank Williams Jr’s son is also a musician. He preforms as Hank III. He has both a country band and a punk band 🙂

    He’s a link to the youtube video for his song Mississippi Mud

  25. Must add Tommy Shaw of Styx & Pieces of Eight.

  26. Adam Chance, who is a member of the acapella group Home Free is from Alabama. Home Free just released a music video “God Bless the USA,’ featuring Lee Greenwood and the United States Air Force Band Singing Sergeants.

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