Music and Hope

Rick Hall was the son of a sharecropper in Alabama.  At the age of 6, he started learning to play music.  As a teenager, he worked in a factory in the daytime and played in a bar band at night.

He became a songwriter and producer and had some early successes.  The royalties earned from his songs gave him the capital to create a recording studio.  Growing up in an environment where country music and gospel dominated, Hall took a bold step in focusing on what was called race music and later rhythm and blues.  This was not well accepted in Alabama initially, but he hoped that music could break down cultural divides.

By the mid 60’s, Hall’s studio became well known for recording songs of Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, and Aretha Franklin.  Aretha Franklin credits Rick Hall with making her the Queen of Soul.

As the fame of his studio grew, white singers also came to him.  These included the Osmonds, Paul Anka, Tom Jones, Bobbi Gentry, the Gatlin Brothers, and the Allman Brothers.  In segregated Alabama, black and white artists came together because they accepted the talent of Rick Hall to produce winning records.

Rick Hall created a place where black and white music came together.  One publication referred to Rick Hall as the “white fiddler who became an unlikely force in soul music.”

Our nation has long struggled with race.  It wasn’t that long ago that African American artists could not have their music played on most radio stations in America.  Many universities’ athletic programs did not integrate until the 1960’s.  Today, music and sports value and accept the talents of individuals not because of race, but because of ability. Everyone with talent can now have realistic hopes.

When you think of how we as a culture have become more accepting of others who are different from us, music and sports have led the way. In effect, music and sports have been the gateway of hope for those who have been denied hope in the past.

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“I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” – Groucho Marx

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