INTERVIEWS with ARTISTS

PHYLICIA RASHAD

BILLY CRUDUP

CAROL LAWRENCE

ANDRUS NICHOLS

MARTY RAYBON

ALONZO KING

JAKE LANDERS

KERRY GILBERT

YI-MIN CAI

MICHAEL SHANE NEAL

TONYA S. HOLLY

CAROLYN PALMER

Spotlight On
International
Artists


Articles

Frantic Assembly

Mark Taper Forum at LA’s Centre Theatre Group 50th Anniversary

MCC Theatre

St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn

The Everyman Theatre

Boston Playwrights’ Theatre

1st Stage Theater

59 E 59 Theater

Young Vic of London

Theatre Huntsville

Dance Place in Washington, D.C.

Alabama School of Fine Arts 50th Year Celebration

Rennie Harris at Baltimore Center Stage

Ronald Rand’s new book “CREATE! How Extraordinary People Live to Create and Create to Live”

What is FAFA? The Florence Academy of Fine Arts in Alabama

Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance – London’s International Drama School

Alabama Music Hall Of Fame

Historic Zodiac Playhouse — The “Z” in Florence, Alabama

Shoals Symphony Orchestra at UNA

“Grand Ball in the Belle Epoch” – Edwardian Period Style Salon

 

 

“To grasp the full significance of life is the actor's duty, to interpret it is his problem, and to express it his dedication.”  
– Marlon Brando

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”
– Helen Keller

“The theatre should be treated with respect. The theatre is a wonderful place, a house of strange enchantment, a temple of illusion.”
– Noel Coward

“Cultivate an ever continuous power of observation...see the sunlight and everything that is to be seen.”
– John Singer Sargent

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
– T.S. Eliot

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."
– Harriet Tubman

“Feel is if you are reborn each day and rediscover the world of nature which are joyfully a part.”
– Pablo Casals, at the age of 96

“The secret of all natural and human law is movement that meets with devotion”
– I Ching

“You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self.”
– Richard Bach

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”
– Wilma Rudolph

“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
– William Faulkner

“Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”
– Ernest Hemingway:

“Art is a nation's most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves, and to others, the inner vision which guides us as a Nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish.”
– President Lyndon B. Johnson

“My favorite piece of music is the one we hear all the time if we are quiet.”
– John Cage

“In a moment of grace, we can grasp eternity in the palm of our hand. This is the gift given to creative individuals who can identify with the mysteries of life through art.”
– Marcel Marceau:

“Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.”
– Ludwig van Beethoven

“Use your knowledge, and your heart, to stand up for those who can't stand, speak for those who can't speak, be a beacon of light.”
– Julie Andrews

“...Beneath the surface of an ordinary everyday normal casual conscious existence there lies a vast dynamic world of impulse and dream...”
– Robert Edmond Jones

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
– Samuel Beckett

“Transform the work, yourself, and everybody around you...Kindness is one of the greatest gifts you can bestow upon another. If someone is in need, lend them a helping hand. Do not wait for a thank you. True kindness lies within the act of giving without the expectation of something in return.”
– Katharine Hepburn

“Being an actor is a religious calling because you've been given the ability, the gift to inspire humanity.”
– Sandy Meisner

“Whenever you are reading beauty around you, you are restoring your own soul.”
– Alice Walker

“The only reason to write is from love.”
– Stephen Sondheim

“To create one's world in any of the arts takes courage.”
– Georgia O’Keefe

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”
– Albert Schweitzer

“A word does not start as a word – it is an end product which begins as an impulse, stimulated by attitude and behavior which dictates the need for expression.”
– Peter Brook

“The power of art is the power of truth.”
– Julian Beck

“The key to the mystery of a great artist is that for reasons unknown, he will give away his energies and his life just to make sure that one note follows another... and leaves us with the feeling that something is right in the world.”
– Leonard Bernstein

 

Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia, Alabama

Entrance to Hall of Fame

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame, located in Tuscumbia, not too far from the banks of the Tennessee River in northwest Alabama, opened its doors after a statewide referendum in 1987.

Showcasing a multitude of heralded musicians from the state of Alabama who have had a significant impact through their performing, song-writing, management, and publishing, The Alabama Music Hall of Fame honors its "achievers," through informative exhibitions, a bronze star on their Walk of Fame, and their inclusion in the Hall of Fame roster.

Wall of Hall of Fame

Among the Hall of Fame’s 12,500 square foot exhibit halls you’ll find displays honoring many stars from Alabama including Hank Williams, Alabama, Lionel Richie and the Commodores, Nat King Cole, Tammy Wynette, Emmylou Harris, the group Alabama, W.C. Handy, Chuck Leavell of the Allman Brothers, Mac McAnally of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band, Norbert Putnam — sideman to Elvis Presley, Donna Jean Godchaux of the Grateful Dead, Tommy Shaw of the classic rock band Styx, and soul man Clarence Carter, as well as the players of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, known as “The Swampers,” immortalized in the Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Sweet Home Alabama,” as well as a Sun City display with a large photo of Elvis Presley, the music group Alabama’s original bus which you can walk through, original costumes from Lionel Richie and the Commodores, a life-size figure of Hank Williams, and a 1960 boat-sized Pontiac convertible adorned with Texas longhorns and silver pistols.

Nat King Cole exhibit

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame’s recent 2016 Hall of Fame honorees included keyboardist Chuck Leavell who toured and recorded with The Rolling Stones for decades, a member of the Allman Brothers and worked with Eric Clapton and Aretha Franklin, former Grateful Dead vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux-McKay, record producer Johnny Sandlin, Southern rockers Wet Willie and the Muscle Shoals Horns. Wet Willie hit, “Keep On Smilin,” is the group's signature song. Wet Willie's original lineup included Jack Hall, Donna Hall, John David Anthony, Ricky Hirsch and Lewis Ross, and later: T.K. Lively, Rick Seymour and Ricky Chancey. 

WC Handy exhibit

The Muscle Shoals Horns was made up of Harvey Thompson, Charles Rose, Harrison Calloway and Ronnie Eades Four of their songs reached the Billboard R&B charts, including "Born To Get Down.” The Muscle Shoals Horns also performed on albums by Bob Dylan, Elton John, James Brown, Paul Simon, B.B. King, Waylon Jennings and many others.

The Commodores original costumes

During September of 2017, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame hosted two very exciting events: First up early in the month were auditions for “American Idol” with thousands of potential finalists attending sparking great excitement about the Hall of Fame. On the 12th of September, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame also hosted a Benefit for the Hall of Fame and a celebration for Ronald Rand’s new book, CREATE!” published by Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing.

Alabama’s tour bus

A standing-room audience enjoyed unforgettable music from music stars including Marty Raybon, Will McFarlane, Garrett Miles, plus Kerry Gilbert, Alyssa Ashley, Hugh Banks, Shane Goodson, and Terry Kimbrough of The KGB Band, along with Eddie Martin, Tony Lee and Malcolm Singleton of The Wildwood Ruminators, as well as Jim Seales, Michael Curtis, Mitchell Curtis and Donny Carpenter of Three Wheel Drive. After Donny Carpenter held the audience spellbound with his rendition of “Amazing Grace,” everyone attending sang along with the all the singers and musicians another chorus of “Amazing Grace” raising their voices in unison sharing the song as a prayer for all those afflicted by the hurricanes across the Caribbean and the southern states.

Shenandoah exhibit

During the program author of “CREATE!,” Ronald Rand read excerpts from his book and a letter Governor Ivey of Alabama sent congratulating Mr. Rand and all of the musicians participating in a Benefit for this most amazing Music Hall of Fame. The audience also heard remarks from Mayor Underwood of Tuscumbia, Susann Hamlin, President/CEO of Colbert Country Tourism, and Dixie Connell Griffin, General Manger of the Hall of Fame. Also on display during this unique event were very large paintings by world-renowned portrait artist, Martha Carpenter, acclaimed landscape painter, Tim Stevenson, needlework by master artist, Jan Masters, along with remarkable large art photography by Parish Kohanim. After the musical part of the program, there was a panel discussion led by Ronald Rand with many of the musicians and artists from the event about creativity and the courage it takes to lead a life as a creative artist. 

Panel Discussion for Ronald Rand’s CREATE! Book Event with Eddie Martin, Tim Stevenson, Martha Carpenter and Ronald Rand

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame also presented a special announcement event with The Colbert County Tourism and Convention Bureau regarding a newly-created “Self-Driving Audio Tour” which includes several music stops as well as other history stops in the Muscle Shoals Area including many of the world-famous recording studios. The exciting new CD also includes special attractions including The Coon Dog Cemetery, Rattlesnake Saloon, Red Bay Museum, Cypress Cove Farm, and Tiffin Factory Tour.  Travis Wammack and the Snakeman Band performed at the event.

When we sat down with Dixie Connell Griffin, at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, I began by asking her: What has been the most exciting for you leading the Alabama Music Hall of Fame?

She began by telling us: “It’s like magic being here every day. Everybody loves music. What I love about the museum is that we honor all styles of music. Visitors will find areas that relate to them personally. I enjoy seeing the smiles of recognition on their faces as they journey through the museum. I’ve met so many different people from so many different walks of life.”

“I was lucky when I went back to work. I began here as a marketing person, and since I have a teaching background, I decided early on to target schools with several different kinds of tours, and we have had a great response. It’s been so marvelous seeing children come and honestly, they’re a bit overwhelmed to hear and see so much here.”

Dixie Griffin, Director of the Hall of Fame at Ronald Rand’s CREATE
Book Event greeting everyone

“Some of the different kinds of tours including celebrating Black History month, another honors many of the artists in the Hall of Fame. I have tried to come up with things for the kids: one that deals with geography — so they learn where the singers came from in Alabama, or to study the posters of the entertainers and that they mean, and to learn about the costumes they wore. The children get to listen to their songs, hear the words and learn about the stories they tell. So in that way, we’re more than just a museum, we’re able to bring them these “educational tools for learning,” and it becomes entwined in their lives and an important part of their education.”

Panel Discussion for Ronald Rand’s CREATE Book Event with Jim Seales, Marty Raybon, Ronald Rand, Martha Carpenter, and Tim Stevenson

I then asked: What makes it important for Alabama to recognize these inspiring artists and their contributions?

“Because music is a universal language,” she replied. “I have found music from Alabama is known all over the world, it’s been heard in countless movies, on many TV shows. We’ve have had visitors from every state in the country, many foreign countries. They come because they know about the impact of “the Father of the Blues,” W.C. Handy, the “Queen of the Blues,” Dinah Washington, and music from Tammy Wynette, Jimmie Rodgers, Shenandoah, Lionel Richie, so many great entertainers come from Alabama. The visitors know their music, and after they see the museum, they tell us they had so idea that so many of these artists had come from Alabama, like Nat King Cole and Jimmy Buffet.”

My last question had to do with the Alabama Music Hall of Fame’s continuing mission and the challenges as they go forward?

“Funding remains one of the biggest challenges. But what’s been so great is that we now have monthly events here at the Hall of Fame honoring all the different styles including Bluegrass, gospel, country, rock ’n’ roll, and these events have helped us to generate extra funds. There’s also that wonderful documentary on Muscle Shoals. That’s a gift that’s been seen all over the world, and continues the re-birth and the interest in our area.”

Hank Williams exhibit

“For me personally, music is very moving to me; I think music is a natural part of our everyday life. We use music in so many things we do everyday. It can soothe the soul, it can make players feel invincible on football teams, it’s always used at weddings, and in so many different ways.”

“We have such great stories here in the state of Alabama, and we sit at the doorstep where all the recordings were made, and the Hall of Fame is a gem filled with so many different stores and all these many wonderful artists.”•



"It is a law of life that man cannot live for himself alone. Extreme individualism is insanity. The world's problems are also our personal problems. Health is achieved through maintaining our personal truth in a balanced relation of love to the rest of the world. No expression is more emblematic of this relation than the creative act which we call art. No art by its very constitution typifies the social nature of that creative act more than the theatre. The theatre, to be fully understood and appreciated, must be seen as a manifestation of this process of interchange between society and the individual. It must be judged as a continuous development of groups of individuals within society, a development which becomes richer, acquires greater force and value as it grows with the society in which it originates. Only in this way can the theatre nourish us.  - Harold Clurman

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