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For music lovers, there’s no better time than now to visit “Sweet Home Alabama.” by Bobby L. Hickman Alabama state leaders have designated 2011 the “Year of Alabama Music” to salute the many artists, events and destinations that make the state a unique draw for music lovers from all genres. Communities across Alabama are pulling out all the stops this year to draw musically inclined visitors. So this summer and fall provide the perfect time to hear live music at concert halls, parks and juke joints; visit the birthplaces of legends; explore recording studios and museums; or enjoy music-themed festivals throughout the state. The list of Alabama musical artists covers a wide range of genres over the past century. There’s Hank Williams ( both Sr. and Jr.), Jimmy Buffett, Wilson Pickett, Chuck Leavell of the Allman Brothers Band, Clarence Carter, Emmylou Harris, Lionel Ritchie, “American Idol” contestants Bo Bice, Taylor Hicks and Ruben Studdard -- and of course, country supergroup “Alabama.” Muscle Shoals has the Swampers … When many people think of Alabama music, their first thought is often Muscle Shoals. And why not? For more than 100 years, the Shoals area has played a major role in the development of American music – from

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by Amanda Burleigh The Alabama tourism bureau has designated 2011 Alabama’s Year of Music! The state will be celebrating its strong musical heritage all year, as a wide variety of genres and artists have roots in the state. Alabama’s abundant musical history can be discovered in museums like the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, recording studios Muscle Shoals and FAME and childhood homes of some of the biggest music legends America has ever known. Some such legends who either recorded in Alabama, were born there or have history with the state include Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Etta James, Clarence Carter, Bobbie Gentry, Bob Dylan, Cher, The Osmonds, The Allman Brothers, Bob Seger, Percy Sledge, The Rolling Stones, Dire Straits, Rod Stewart and Little Richard. Quite a who's who in music history! Specifically for this tourism campaign, Gibson custom-designed a guitar shaped like the state of Alabama, which was unveiled in Birmingham on October 22. Although only recently unveiled to the public, the guitar has already been played by multiple artists including Bob Dylan, Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers and Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi. The guitar was also played on Jay Leno by a member from Jamey Johnson’s band. if you've enjoyed

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