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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.