What to Experience While Visiting the Shoals Area

Written by: Sarah Sparks | Troy University Music Industry Major | Muscle Shoals Song Rooms Intern 2020

September 23, 2020

“The Shoals” is a loving nickname given to the northwestern corner area of Alabama consisting of Florence, Sheffield, Tuscumbia, and Muscle Shoals. This area is rich in music influence and serves as the birthplace of music legends W.C. Handy and Sam Phillips. 

Both aspiring and established songwriters visit this area every year to experience the music culture and find inspiration. Whether you visit for a day or a long weekend, I’ve collected a list of experiences to help you get the most out of “The Shoals”. 

FAME Recording Studios

Located in Muscle Shoals, FAME Recording Studios is famous for producing hits for legendary artists including Etta James, Clarence Carter, Wilson Pickett, Ronnie Milsap, and many more. 

FAME offers tours 6 days a week, and tickets run $10 for adults and $5 for children under the age of 12. 

More about FAME can be found here: https://famestudios.com 

Muscle Shoals Sound Studio

Located in Sheffield, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio was opened by the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (popularly known as The Swampers). The founders were previous employees at FAME who decided to branch off and become entrepreneurs of their own. MSS is famous for recording tracks for The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rod Stewart, Paul Simon, and more. They offer studio tours and ticket discounts for students, military, and senior citizens. 

More about Muscle Shoals Sound can be found here: https://muscleshoalssoundstudio.org 

Alabama Music Hall of Fame

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame was opened in 1990 and offers tours popular with schools, historians, and music fans. Located in Tuscumbia, AMHOF tours highlight many artists, musical achievers, and Hall of Fame inductees. 

More on the Alabama Music Hall of Fame can be found here: https://www.alamhof.org 

Muscle Shoals Song Rooms

In addition to housing a community for songwriters, the Muscle Shoals Song Rooms is also a live performance facility that offers members discounted tickets to live performances. Catching a live performance is a great way to experience the music culture of The Shoals and network with the Song Rooms community. 

W.C. Handy Museum and Library of African American Digital Music

Florence, AL is the birthplace of W.C. Handy – “The Father of the Blues”. The W.C. Handy Museum and Library of African American Digital Music is made up of the cabin where he was born as well as a museum filled with personal artifacts and memorabilia from his life.

More on the W.C. Handy Museum and Library of African American Digital Music can be found here: https://www.wchandymuseum.org 

Wishbone Studios

Established in 1976, Wishbone Studios has been involved in recording projects including Alabama, B.J. Thomas, Darryl Worley, George Strait, Hank Williams, Jr. and many more. 

More on Wishbone Studios can be found here: https://www.wishbonestudios.com 

Cypress Moon Studios

Formerly known as the second location for Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Cypress Moon Studios is located in Sheffield, AL, and offers tours by appointment as well as a concert venue for live performances. Portside Sound and HearTell Studios is also located in Cypress Moon Studios as well.

More on Cypress Moon Studios can be found here: https://tennesseerivervalleygeotourism.org/entries/cypress-moon-studios/d6584e81-9fc9-4c5f-b239-96db4f8a4931 

Ivy Manor At The Shoals

Located in Sheffield, Ivy Manor At The Shoals is the centerpiece of Ivy Manor Music Group and the only turn-key destination studio in the Shoals area. 

More on Ivy Manor At The Shoals can be found here: https://www.ivymanorattheshoals.com 

The Nutthouse Recording Studio

Located in Sheffield, The Nutthouse is a digital/analog studio that has hosted artists such as St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Alabama Shakes, Percy Sledge, and more. 

More on The Nutthouse can be found here: https://thenutthouse.com 

I hope that you take the time to come and enjoy these experiences in The Shoals; you’ll be sure to start planning for your next visit – even before you leave!