Shoals Gold Record Room
100 gold records line the walls of the ground floor lobby of the Suntrust Bank Building in downtown Florence, Alabama—100 reminders of the raw talent that has driven through the Alabama pines in search for that Muscle Shoals music grit. For years new and seasoned artists alike traveled across the country and across the world to find the palatable, soulful Shoals sound that rose out of the river and into the recording studio. Legendary artists like Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Percy Sledge, Etta James, and the Rolling Stones are just a few of the musicians that found that sound and possess gold records displayed on Court Street, however, the wall isn’t just a museum or reminder of the success found in the past, but also of the talent that is here today, and the potential for the future. On June 1st , 2016 Marty Abroms and Bill Lyons, owners of the Suntrust Building, teamed up with Swampette wife, Judy Hood, to unveil the Gold Record Room, which showcases current musicians and honors the musical heritage that has already been established, in hopes to inspire future generations of Shoals artists.
At First Fridays on June 1st the doors opened for the public to view the Gold Record Room for the first time—there was live music outside, and excitement inside as spectators mingled, shared stories, and stared in awe at the rows of records of their favorite songs and artists. The room boasts a large floor to ceiling mural with famous photos of Etta James, Elvis, Cher, and other artists who have recorded in the Shoals, and guests can also find iconic costumes, signed guitars, photographs, and a baby grand piano that plays Muscle Shoals hits. The collection of items and overall design of the room was completed with the joint effort of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame board member, Judy Hood, who spearheaded the project along with No’Ala Magazine, and with contributions from musicians and local resident Steve Price, who generously loaned items from their private collections.
However, the room was intended to not only display famous artifacts from the past, but to showcase current artists, and to serve as a beautiful place for hosting events, parties, and meetings for nonprofits that support the arts and to benefit education outreach. The sophisticated space includes a floor designed to portray a guitar and gold record, Robin Wade furniture, a jukebox vending machine, and is set up with a top of the line sound system—an ideal setting for any event that hopes to showcase all the Shoals has to offer. Marty Abroms and Billy Lyons, who are both big supporters of Muscle Shoals Music, were eager to use the space to showcase what has put the Shoals on the map and encourage the entire community to celebrate and continue to support our local musical talent.
Every day visitors from around the world visit the Shoals because their favorite song was recorded here—they want to see, hear, and feel the Muscle Shoals sound. Now, as they make their way from the Muscle Shoals recording studios, across the shimmering Singing River, and up the hill onto South Court Street in downtown Florence, Alabama they will be met with the Suntrust Bank building and have the opportunity to visually grasp the impact the Shoals has had around the world with each shining, gold record. If you haven’t stopped by to see this one-of-a-kind display you can check it out Monday-Friday from 8:00am – 5:00pm and learn more about our very own “Hit Recording Capital of the World!”