• UK Alabama Tourism office promotes London premier of Muscle Shoals documentary
  • London Telegraph does feature on music industry in Muscle Shoals
  • The Rolling Stones highlight documentary on their website
  • Bentley announces funding to promote tourism in west Alabama
  • Bicentennial Executive Director Position
  • Grand Hotel nabs two prestigious Condé Nast Traveler rankings
  • Mobile area historic hotels nominated for awards by preservation group
  • “Da Vinci – The Genius” on show at U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Nov. 2 – March 2, 2014
  • Museum on Main Street heading to Ashland
  • Outfitter builds business in ecotourism industry
  • The 2013 Alabama Welcome Center Educational Retreat is set for Nov. 17-19
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


UK Alabama Tourism office promotes London premier of Muscle Shoals documentary

The UK Alabama Tourism office visited Ireland Oct. 22-23 with other Deep South UK representatives to call on leading Irish tour operators who sell vacations to Alabama to highlight reasons to sell our state and provide training to their sales teams. It was a timely visit as the new Muscle Shoals documentary just launched in both the UK and Ireland and is receiving rave reviews. Platinum Travel, one of the tour operators visited, highlighted the new film on their website:  Ciara Foley, Chairperson at the Visit USA Ireland Association also distributed a news release about the Muscle Shoals film launch to their Irish Travel Industry and consumers:

The UK office of Alabama Tourism worked with the Visit USA UK Association to release news about the new Muscle Shoals film out now in the UK to its 20,000 UK Travel industry and consumer members:

David Hood, one of the original Swampers, gave a live interview Wednesday on London Radio Station Resonance FM during his visit to the UK to promote the opening of the documentary film.  The one-hour interview included music from artists who recorded in the Shoals. The interview will be available for listeners to access again via podcast and will be aired a second time on Sun. Nov. 3, on Resonance FM:


London Telegraph does feature on music industry in Muscle Shoals

In January 1967 a young singer named Aretha Franklin arrived in the small Alabama town of Muscle Shoals, her career hanging in the balance. At the age of 25 Franklin was already a music veteran. She had recorded nine albums, none of which had properly captured the fiery, transcendent intensity of her voice or the rapt, prayerful beauty of her piano playing. But over the course of just a few hours, in a studio where she had never worked before, with musicians whom she had met for the first time that day, Franklin would record not only the most important song in her career but one of the greatest songs in the history of pop music, I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You). What made this record all the more remarkable was that the backing musicians who provided the brooding, soulful and unmistakably black sound were in fact white – country boys who had grown up in the 1950s and 1960s in what at that time was the most racially troubled state in America. Equally remarkable was the fact that the recording session would end in an explosion of racial tension that would lead to Franklin leaving Muscle Shoals the next day, never to return. She had recorded only one song. But it would go to the top of the charts around the world, and make her the unchallenged Queen of Soul.

The Fame studio, a squat, bunker-like building, stands on a busy road junction, adjacent to a chain pharmacy and an auto-parts store. Above the doorway to the studio where Franklin recorded I Never Loved a Man a sign reads, ‘through these doors walk the finest musicians, songwriters, artists and producers in the world’. It is no idle boast. Franklin was one of scores of artists who made their way to Muscle Shoals to record in the 1960s and 1970s. The roll call of names is extraordinary: Wilson Pickett, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, Paul Simon… For a brief and exhilarating period Muscle Shoals rivaled New York, Los Angeles and London as one of the most important recording centres in popular music.

You need only visit Muscle Shoals to realise quite how remarkable this was. The town is one of four – the others are Florence, Sheffield and Tuscumbia – that cluster along the Tennessee River in the north-western corner of Alabama, and are collectively known as the Shoals. The combined population is 69,000. It is a place of wood-framed houses, their porches entwined with bougainvillea; of handsome antebellum mansions – and of restaurants serving fried catfish and turnip greens. Thick forests flank the river, which rolls sluggishly in the summer heat.

For an anonymous backwater the Shoals has an improbably rich musical history. Florence was the birthplace of WC Handy, the ‘father of the blues’, and of Sam Phillips, who in 1953, convinced, as he put it, that ‘if I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars’, had the presence of mind to record an 18-year-old Elvis Presley singing the blues song That’s Alright Mama – effectively creating rock’n’roll.

Now the documentary film Muscle Shoals – an impressive directional debut by Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier – explores this history through archive footage and interviews with musicians including Franklin, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Alicia Keys. But the star of the film is a man of whom few are likely to have heard, whose life story might have been torn from the pages of a Southern Gothic novel and who single-handedly put Muscle Shoals on the musical map. Rick Hall is a classic example of a type that no longer exists in the music industry: a musician, songwriter and businessman who could write, arrange, produce and engineer a song, release it on his own label, then persuade disc jockeys to play it and distributors to sell it. In short, a man from a time before music was an ‘industry’ at all.

To read the entire article, go to:


The Rolling Stones highlight documentary on their website

Muscle Shoals Film Info Posted by The Rolling Stones

The legendary music group The Rolling Stones on Oct. 26, posted on both their official webpage,, and on their Facebook page with 16,212,611 likes (fans) a feature about Mick Jagger’s and Keith Richard’s involvement with the Muscle Shoals film., Oct. 26

Mick and Keith feature in a new documentary about Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, where the Rolling Stones recorded ‘Brown Sugar’ and ‘Wild Horses’.

The documentary is out now in UK cinemas.

Located alongside the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals, Alabama is the unlikely breeding ground for some of America’s most creative and defiant music. Under the spiritual influence of the “Singing River,” as Native Americans called it, the music of Muscle Shoals has helped create some of the most important and resonant songs of all time. At its heart is Rick Hall who founded FAME Studios. Overcoming crushing poverty and staggering tragedies, Hall brought black and white together in Alabama’s cauldron of racial hostility to create music for the generations. He is responsible for creating the “Muscle Shoals sound” and The Swampers, the house band at FAME that eventually left to start their own successful studio, known as Muscle Shoals Sound. Greg Allman, Bono, Clarence Carter, Mick Jagger, Etta James, Alicia Keys, Keith Richards, Percy Sledge and others bear witness to Muscle Shoals’ magnetism, mystery and why it remains influential today.


Bentley announces funding to promote tourism in west Alabama  

Oct. 24

Gov. Robert Bentley has announced a $49,995 grant to promote tourism in six Alabama counties.

Funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission will enable the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development to create a program to promote natural, cultural and historical assets in Hale, Pickens, Fayette, Lamar, Bibb and Tuscaloosa counties.

“With so much to see and so many stories to learn, travelers must experience west Alabama to get a full picture of Alabama’s history and people,” Gov. Bentley said.  “This grant is the latest example of how we’re working to support and increase tourism throughout our state.  Tourism helps support jobs and local economies while also sharing the natural and cultural assets of Alabama with more people.”

Among the attractions that will be promoted are the Alabama Birding Trail; the Cahaba River and the Cahaba Lily Festival; Moundville Archaeological Park; Aliceville, site of a prisoner of war camp for Germans during World War II; the Paul W. Bryant Museum; the Westervelt Warner Museum of American Art; and numerous parks and trails.

Bentley notified Cynthia Hope, assistant vice president for research at UA that the grant had been approved.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administers the ARC program in Alabama along with a wide range of programs that support law enforcement, economic development, workforce development, recreation facilities, energy conservation and water resource management.

Congress established the ARC in 1965 as a supplemental grant program to raise the standard of living, improve the quality of life and promote economic development in portions of the 13 Appalachian mountain states. Thirty-seven Alabama counties, including those involved in the tourism promotion, are part of the ARC area.

Bicentennial Executive Director Position 

Oct. 25

The board of directors of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission has developed the job description for the position of executive director whose office will be located within the Alabama Tourism Department in the Alabama Center for Commerce at 401 Adams Avenue in Montgomery.

To view the job description, go to:

The position will be available Jan. 1, 2014.  Persons who are interested in applying for the position should send a resume to:

Attention: Mrs. Cynthia Flowers, Director of Personnel, Alabama Tourism Department, P.O. Box 4927, Montgomery 36103-4927. Her email address is:


Grand Hotel nabs two prestigious Conde Nast Traveler rankings

by Kelli Dugan,, Oct. 28

The Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa jumped an astounding 44 spots to 28 in Conde Nast Traveler’s Top 100 Resort Spas listing for 2013.

The ranking ties the Point Clear hotspot with Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and makes it the only Alabama locale listed.

Meanwhile, the Spa at the Grand ranked 15th among the Top 20 Resorts in the South.

Bruce Smith, general manager at the Grand Hotel, called the honors “both rewarding and motivating.”

“Being tied with the spa at Caesars Palace and ahead of every spa in Palm Beach says a great deal for our spa team and the services they provide. Not only were we higher than most of the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons hotels in overall scores, the Spa at the Grand was also considerably lower than most for spa treatment price,” Smith said.

“It is great to offer affordable, world-class services for our guests whether they are from Baldwin County or from around the globe. The Queen of Southern Resorts continues to thrive,” he said.

To see the article, go to:


Mobile area historic hotels nominated for awards by preservation group

by Michael Finch II,, Oct. 24

An organization which recognizes historic hotels in the country has nominated the Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel and Spa and the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club and Spa in Point Clear for several awards, including best historic resort and restaurant.

Historic Hotels of America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, distributes the awards every year for hotels that have maintained their authenticity and architecture.

Battle House historian George Moore was nominated for two awards: best historian and hotel ambassador.

“It’s a great honor to be nominated,” Moore said, who has worked there since 2007. “It’s the beauty of this building and it age. You don’t find a lot of buildings in the United States that are very old and as beautiful as this one — architecturally.”

The Trellis Room at the Battle House was nominated in the historic restaurant category as well.

The Battle House, was first built in 1852 but burned down in 1905. The current structure, which remains in the same place on Royal Street, was built in 1908. After operating as a Sheraton for many years, it was renovated and reopened in 2007.

The Grand’s Hilbert Locke was also tapped for the best hotel historian nomination and hotel ambassador. The hotel, which was built in 1847, was nominated for best historic hotel.

Winners will be named at a gala on Nov. 21 at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, Wis.


“Da Vinci – The Genius” on show at U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Nov. 2 – March 2, 2014

Da Vinci – The Genius demonstrates the full scope of Leonardo da Vinci’s remarkable genius as an inventor, artist, anatomist, sculptor, engineer, musician and architect. Guests will enjoy more than 200 unique pieces including 75 life-size machine inventions, three-dimensional renderings of da Vinci’s most notable Renaissance works and an eye-opening, in-depth analysis of his most famous piece, “Mona Lisa.” Visitors will be able to push, pull, crank and interact with many of these exhibits for a hands-on understanding of the scientific principles behind them. 

“This exhibition was created by Grande Exhibitions, Australia to celebrate Leonardo da Vinci’s great works and place them all together in a single location where people can come and marvel at the brilliance of this great mind. We’re delighted to bring this exceptional project to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville” said Dr. Deborah Barnhart, CEO & Executive Director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.  Da Vinci – The Genius is an example of how art and invention in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education broadens all horizons,” Barnhart added.Da Vinci offers visitors of all ages and backgrounds an entertaining, educational and enlightening experience, whether they are art and history aficionados or seeing da Vinci’s work for the first time.”

For more information, go to:


Museum on Main Street heading to Ashland

Ashland is the next destination point for an historic traveling exhibit from Washington, D.C. that begins Nov. 2, and runs through Christmas Day.

A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. Sat., Nov. 2, at the Old Adams Drugstore on the square in downtown Ashland.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the City of Ashland will be distributing historic publications — a brochure of key dates in Clay County history, the story of Ashland and a photo album of historic pictures.

Councilwoman Becky Boddie of Ashland, who along with husband Jerry, are spearheading plans in Clay County, said it was important to “acknowledge and celebrate our past while forming a bridge to the future. This project allows us to do just that.”

Only six Alabama towns and cities have been chosen for The Way We Worked exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution in 2013-14 as part of the Museum on Main Street project.  The tour began Sept. 14, in Red Bay and will run through July 6, 2014, with stops in Ashland, Andalusia, Fairhope, Northport and Wetumpka.  The Way We Worked is featured for more than a month at each stop, giving thousands of residents and students in those small or rural cities an opportunity they may not have had otherwise.

Through a partnership between Alabama Humanities Foundation and the Smithsonian begun in 1997, Museum on Main Street is able to offer small communities with average populations of 8,000 a quality educational experience with community programs and activities in conjunction with the exhibit.

Dr. John F. Kvach, an assistant professor of history at The University of Alabama in Huntsville, will spend much of the year visiting host towns as a key figure in the program.

The exhibit focuses on how Alabamians worked over time and place and highlight the work experiences of Americans as part of the nation’s story.  Kvach will supplement the traveling exhibit with teacher workshops and public lectures as well as an oral history project that will record the voices of state residents.

The oral history project will train public school teachers and high school students to conduct interviews with local residents.  Kvach hopes that the oral history component of the exhibit and the exhibit itself will allow students to engage their community’s history and encourage the public to help preserve Alabama’s historical legacy.


Outfitter builds business in ecotourism industry

by Cliff Knight, The Hartselle Inquirer, Oct. 23

Canoe adventures on Flint Creek and other streams in North Alabama have led to a growing business for Alabama Eco Adventures outfitter Jay Grantland and pointed the way to the untapped opportunities that exist in Alabama’s ecotourism industry.

Grantland’s success and the upward trend in utilizing water resources for economic development was the subject of a press conference held at Waterworks Center for Environmental Education near Hartselle Oct. 11. Participants were representatives of the Alabama River Scenic River Trail (ASRT), State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur and Grantland.

Grantland acknowledged that his operation has benefited greatly from ASRT’s website and national outreach efforts.

“We’re now extending into the weekdays as more groups take to paddling adventures,” he said. “We have the equipment and qualified guides to put over 60 people on the water at one time, and are maxing out a lot. Groups from as far away as New York and New Jersey are coming to Alabama to paddle the river trail. A group from Scotland has been booked for later this month.”

Grantland believes that Alabama’s river system can provide more opportunities for ecotourism growth.

“I often have people visit my website and then call and tell me about a specific picture they see,” Grantland stated. “They want to witness more of Alabama’s beauty.”

“We’re excited about being a partner of ASRT,” said Mike Roden, director of Alabama Mountains, Rivers and Valleys Resource Conservation Council. Our goals are the same. We want kids and adults to get outside and experience the wonders of the natural resources we have.

“I can envision our river trails becoming as popular as our Trent Jones golf courses in the future,” he added.

“Waterworks is an eco-destination where teachers, students and groups are on the water and exploring the natural world five days per week.”

Since the creation of ASET in 2008, outfitters renting boating equipment in the state have grown in number from fewer than eight to more than 30.

Jim Felder, executive director of ASRT said he believes outfitter successes like that of Grantland validates that Alabama has the quality of destination that people will travel to visit and enjoy.

“Alabama Eco Adventures success has a lot to do with the quality of experience along Alabama’s 5,000 miles of wildlife-rich streams, rivers and backwaters,” he pointed out.

“I feel that Alabama’s river system is an untapped resource for local municipalities and small businesses to grow and develop,” said Orr, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means General Fund.

“The Alabama Legis-lature wanted to support local towns that needed technical assistance, marketing and resources to develop their area into a possible destination for water recreation enthusiasts from round the country,” he pointed out. “We felt that supporting the ASRT network was the best way to utilize economic development for our river systems.”

For more information about the Alabama Scenic River Trail, visit

See more at:


The 2013 Alabama Welcome Center Educational Retreat is set for Nov. 17 – 19

The Alabama Welcome Center Educational Retreat is set for Nov. 17 – 19, in Orange Beach.  The retreat continues to be a unique opportunity to update the Welcome Center staff on organizations, attractions, accommodations and special events.  The host hotel is the Hampton Inn & Suites Orange Beach.

For registration, costs, and additional information please contact:

Betty Wood, with the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau, 251-968-9319 or e-mail


Frances Smiley, Alabama Tourism Department, Welcome Center Supervisor, 334-202-2908 or e-mail:


Alabama Tourism Department ATD upcoming events


Nov. 17 – 19             Welcome Center Retreat, Gulf Shores

Dec. 3-6                      International Showcase, Nashville

Dec. 12                        Welcome Centers – Open House

Feb. 23-26, 2014         Travel South Domestic Showcase, Charleston, WV

The Alabama Tourism Department News is a free electronic newsletter produced by the Alabama Tourism Department. It contains news about the state tourism department and the Alabama tourism industry. The newsletter can also be accessed online by going to:

Alabama Tourism Department