(San Francisco, CA) — 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, Muscle Shoals is the birthplace of some of the most important and influential songs of all time, by artists ranging from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Wilson Pickett, the Rolling Stones to Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys to the Civil Wars. At the heart of the Muscle Shoals phenomenon is visionary producer 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 make music for the generations. He is responsible for the indelible “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. The story of the small town with the big sound, Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier’s Muscle Shoals premieres on Independent Lens, hosted by Stanley Tucci, on Monday, April 21, 2014, 9:00 to 11:00pm ET on PBS (check local listings.)
Featuring interviews with dozens of singers and musicians who bear witness to the magic of Muscle Shoals — including Gregg Allman, Bono, Clarence Carter, Mick Jagger, Etta James, Alicia Keys, Keith Richards, and Percy Sledge — Muscle Shoals pays joyful tribute to the birthplace of such iconic hits as “I’ll Take You There,” “Brown Sugar,” “When a Man Loves a Woman,” “Mustang Sally,” “Tell Mama,” “Kodachrome,” “Freebird,” and "Mainstreet.” Muscle Shoals is the place where, even before the Civil Rights Movement, the color of your skin didn’t matter once the music started. Or, as Keith Richard says, “it’s rock and roll heaven, man.” Visit the Muscle Shoals companion website (http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/muscle-shoals) which features information about the film, including an interview with the filmmaker and links and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film and more.
About the Participants, in Alphabetical Order
Gregg Allman is a rock and blues singer-songwriter, keyboardist, guitarist, and a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band.
Barry Beckett was a keyboardist who worked as a session musician, was a member of The Swampers, and one of the founding members of Muscle Shoals Sound Studios.
Bono is an Irish singer, musician, and activist and the primary vocalist and lyricist of U2.
Clarence Carter is a blues and soul singer, musician, songwriter, and record producer.
Jimmy Cliff is a Jamaican musician and singer whose songs helped popularize reggae.
Aretha Franklin is one of the best-selling female artists of all time.
Donnie Fritts is a session musician and songwriter.
Donna Jean Godchaux is a musician best known for having been a member of the Grateful Dead.
Rick Hall is a record producer, songwriter, music publisher, and musician. He is the owner and proprietor of the FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
Roger Hawkins is a drummer best known for playing in The Swampers and one of the founding members of Muscle Shoals Sound Studios.
David Hood is a bassist from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He was a member of The Swampers and one of the founders of Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.
Mick Jagger is a founding member and lead vocalist of the Rolling Stones.
Jaimoe is a legendary drummer and founding member of the Allman Brothers Band.
Etta James was a singer who covered a variety of genres such as blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, jazz, and gospel.
Jimmy Johnson is a guitarist and member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, also known as The Swampers, and later was the founder of Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.
Alicia Keys is an R&B singer-songwriter, pianist, musician, record producer, and actress.
Ed King was a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd and co-wrote “Sweet Home Alabama.”
Spooner Oldham is a songwriter and session musician.
Dan Penn is a singer, musician, songwriter, and record producer who co-wrote many soul hits of the 1960s.
Wilson Pickett was an R&B, soul, and rock and roll singer and songwriter.
Keith Richards is a guitarist and founding member of the Rolling Stones.
Percy Sledge is an R&B and soul performer.
Candi Staton is a soul and gospel singer.
Jerry Wexler was a legendary music producer who was integral in signing and/or producing artists including Ray Charles, The Allman Brothers, Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, and Bob Dylan.
John Paul White is a singer-songwriter and was a member of the duo The Civil Wars.
Steve Winwood is a British musician who was a key member of the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, and Blind Faith.
Directed by Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier
Director of Photography: Anthony Arendt
Edited by Richard Lowe
Associate Producer: Linda Livingston
Produced by: Stephen Badger, Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier
Executive Producer: Matthew Freud
About the Filmmaker
Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier (Director) Making his directorial debut with Muscle Shoals, filmmaking is a deep-seated passion that Camalier is hoping and planning to pursue for the remainder of his life. Having never attended film school, Camalier’s sense of filmmaking is born from his own instincts and visual sensibilities as well as from an appreciation for the art form. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.
About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing on PBS which recently won the 2013 Award for Best Continuing Series bestowed by the International Documentary Association (IDA). The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unflinching visions of independent filmmakers. Presented by Independent Television Service (ITVS), the series is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding from PBS and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The senior series producer is Lois Vossen. More information at www.pbs.org/independentlens. Join Independent Lens on Facebook at www.facebook.com/independentlens.