BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Over the years, some of the most celebrated musicians in the world have had a connection to Alabama.

From jazz composer Sun Ra being born in Birmingham to Aretha Franklin recording her first major single in Muscle Shoals, there have been many musicians who have called Alabama home. Recently, Rolling Stone magazine unveiled its list of the 200 greatest singers of all time. While several singers on the list had distant but notable ties to the state, six had the distinction of being born in Alabama.

Here are singers from Alabama who made Rolling Stone’s list:

Hank Williams

This is an undated photo of Country and Western singer and guitarist Hank Williams. He was born in Georgiana, Al., in 1923 as Hiram King Williams, and he died of a heart attack in 1953. (AP Photo)

Born in Mount Olive, Alabama, Hank Williams grew up in many places across the state, from Greenville to Garland and Georgiana and, famously, Montgomery, where his music career began with his own music show he hosted on WSFA.

Despite being only 29 years old when he died in 1953, Williams became one of the most revered artists in country music, with artists like Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and The Beatles citing him as an influence. In addition to his many accolades, such as a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame, Williams was posthumously awarded a special citation by the Pulitzer Prize committee in 2010 for his music.

Of all Alabama-born singers on Rolling Stone’s list, Williams came the highest at No. 30.

Hank Williams is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery.

Wilson Pickett

American singer Wilson Pickett (1941 – 2006) appears on stage at the Apollo Theater, New York City, 8th September 1966. (Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Despite getting his first musical start in Detroit, Wilson Pickett was actually born in Prattville, Alabama. Before leaving Alabama to go to Detroit in 1955, Pickett was known to participate in Baptist church choirs in Alabama.

Pickett recorded some of his biggest songs in Muscle Shoals, such as “Land of 1,000 Dances” and “Mustang Sally,” both of which were recorded using the famous Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, better known as “The Swampers,” as his backing band.

Pickett, who came at No. 76 on the list, died in 2006.

Emmylou Harris

Country music star Emmylou Harris sings “Icy Blue Heart,” written by John Hiatt, during Hiatt’s induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductions in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Emmylou Harris was born in Birmingham, but grew up in North Carolina and Virginia.

Throughout her career, Harris has worked with artists as varied as Gram Parsons to Neil Young and Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler and many more, in addition to over 20 solo albums.

Harris, who was 79th on Rolling Stone’s list, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008.

Jimmie Rodgers

Vince Gill speaks under a picture of Jimmie Rodgers, known as the Father of Country Music, during a television taping for the new Ken Burns documentary “Country Music” at the Ryman Auditorium Wednesday, March 27, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. The PBS film is set to air in September. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Often called “the Father of Country Music,” Jimmie Rodgers had believed to have been born in Meridian, Mississippi in 1897. However, documents were later recovered that listed his birthplace as Geiger, Alabama in Sumter County. Rodgers would spend his childhood between southeast Mississippi and Geiger.

Rodgers recorded some of the earliest records in country music, with one of his first big hits being “Blue Yodel” in 1927, which would go on to sell half a million copies in two years.

Rodgers died in 1933 at the age of 35 after dealing with long bouts of tuberculosis. After his death, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame.

Rodgers came at No. 88 on Rolling Stone’s list.

Martha Reeves

Motown singer Martha Reeves is shown on Belle Isle in Detroit, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2005. Reeves says Detroit is missing the love it had in the 1960s, when she was belting out hits like “Dancing in the Street” and “Heat Wave.” Detroit voters on Tuesday night selected her for a spot on the Nov. 8 general election ballot along with 17 other City Council hopefuls. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Best known as the lead singer of Martha and the Vandellas, Martha Reeves was born in Eufaula, Alabama, but moved to Detroit as a baby. With the Vandellas, some of Reeves’ biggest songs were “Nowhere to Run” and “Dancing in the Street.”

Reeves and the Vandellas were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

Reeves, who also served on the Detroit City Council between 2005 and 2009, was 151st on Rolling Stones’ list.


Folk performer Odetta sings at the New Orleans Jazz Festival in 1978. She fell in love with folk music in the 1950s and is still going strong doing her thing – but to a new generation. (AP Photo

Born in Birmingham, Odetta Holmes moved with her family to Los Angeles when she was 7 years old.

Known by her stage name “Odetta,” Holmes was a major early figure in the folk music scene in the 1950s and 1960s, influencing singers like Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Mavis Staples and others.

Odetta, who died in 2008, ranked 171st on Rolling Stone’s list.

Read the full list of singers the magazine profiled here.