Amy Black on Fri, June 23, 2017

For Amy Black, Muscle Shoals, Alabama, has always held a special magic. Her parents were born there, and some of her fondest memories were made during frequent visits to both sets of grandparents. She spent so much time in “the Shoals,” it felt more like home than many of the places she’d actually lived. She even knew the local hangouts and town lore. Or thought she did.

Black remembers passing FAME Studios often; it was right on the main drag. But she had no awareness then of its musical history or impact, much less any inkling that she’d wind up making music her career. Little could she know that one day, a session with the legendary Muscle Shoals keyboardist Spooner Oldham would launch her on a journey of discovery that would give her an even deeper connection with a place she loves. After Oldham, one of Muscle Shoals’ original “Swampers” session players, was serendipitously invited to perform on her 2013 EP The Muscle Shoals Session, her interest in the sound and its story was awakened. She fell so in love — and felt so at home — with the sweet soul music he’d helped craft decades before, she expanded the EP into an entire album of Shoals classics and seamlessly blended originals.

Recording the album at FAME, Black never fails to nail the spot where gospel, blues and R&B collide — and transform into soul. Blues in Britain wrote, “Black Is blessed with a deeply soulful voice that melds elements of Dusty Springfield, Mavis Staples and Alberta Hunter.” Inspired by Etta James, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Mavis Staples and so many others who recorded some of modern music’s most iconic songs in this little Alabama hamlet, Black’s project pays homage to magic made at both FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, as well as to her beloved grandparents, and the cherished memories she carries of childhood sojourns.