Archive for October, 2007

Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in Consideration for National Heritage Designation

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007 by Brian Seidman

Music Fell on Alabama author C. S. Fuqua comments on the recent move to name Muscle Shoals, Alabama, a national heritage area:

In its heyday of the 1960s and ’70s, the area became known as the Hit Capital of the World, thanks to a few renegade recording studios that enhanced the area’s already rich musical heritage by bringing in some of the biggest names in music to record, names such as the Rolling Stones, Linda Ronstadt, Bob Dylan, Joe Cocker and many more. Because of that rich heritage, the Muscle Shoals region in north Alabama may soon be designated as a national heritage area under legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives. While the majority of the Alabama delegation realized the benefit of the designation, Alabama Republican Representatives Terry Everett and Robert Aderholt voted against it.

If the legislation clears the Senate and is signed into law, the Shoals area would receive as much as $1 million a year in matching money to local groups for up to 15 years to preserve and promote the region, to maintain the area’s character, and to draw visitors to the area. The Shoals, whose notoriety includes being home to Helen Keller, W. C. Handy, Sam Phillips, the Alabama Renaissance Fair, and recording studios such as Fame and Muscle Shoals Sound, could certainly benefit from increased promotion.

Since the first publication of Music Fell on Alabama, the Muscle Shoals music industry’s global influence has been detailed in various media, including television, print, and Internet, but the Shoals industry has been in decline over the last two decades and could eventually wither away completely as a result of technological advances and the ever-changing way people produce and get their music. The fame of its past won’t keep an industry alive or tourists flowing to a specific area forever.

Although the music industry is still present in the Shoals, it is certainly not as influential as it was in the ’60s and ’70s. In fact, most Shoals studios, including the Muscle Shoals Sound in 2006, have closed due to declining business. It would be a disgraceful loss to allow the national and international recognition of the Shoals region’s rich musical heritage to fade away as the industry itself fades. Designation as a national heritage area and the money provided for preservation and promotion could at least entice more tourists to the area to experience and learn more about the rich musical heritage and contributions that Alabama has made and continues to make even in times when the recording industry itself is going through major changes.

C. S. Fuqua’s history of the Muscle Shoals music industry, Music Fell on Alabama, is available at your favorite bookstore or directly from NewSouth Books. Search the full text of Music Fell on Alabama from Google Books.

Fairytale Author Valerie Gribben Combines Reading and Healing

Thursday, October 25th, 2007 by Suzanne La Rosa

When UAB medical student Valerie Gribben discovered in her sophmore year that her mother had breast cancer, she spent hours reading aloud to her from The Emperor’s Realm (the sequel to Fairytale, due out from NewSouth Books in fall 2008) to distract her from the discomfort of chemotherapy and concerns about her health. In so doing, Gribben realized the idea for Healing Words, a program in which students with a wide range of majors read to patients at local Birmingham hospitals, pediatric medical facilities, and nursing homes.

Healing Words grew quickly, with over 150 student volunteers participating today. The Alabama Literacy Council is a major supporter. It donates books for the cause and also offers a training session to incoming volunteers. Says Gribben, “I have long known that reading stirs the imagination. It took only my mother’s illness to help me understand the value of the human voice and literature to the healing process.”

Learn more about Healing Words at their website,

NewSouth Announces Extended Search with Google Books

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007 by Brian Seidman

NewSouth Books is pleased to offer extended search capabilities for our books, using new Google Book Search tools. Readers can now search the full text of NewSouth Books, view pages and photographs from the books online, and even see reviews and references to NewSouth Books from across the web.

Select NewSouth book pages feature Google Book search boxes, including the new edition of Alabama storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham’s Alabama, One Big Front Porch; Bill Elder’s memoir of desegregating college athletics, All Guts and No Glory, and Gerald Duff’s new collection of award-winning short stories, Fire Ants.

To search the text of all our NewSouth titles, visit our Titles in Print page.

NewSouth Books titles are available from your favorite local or online book retailer, or from

Celebrate Reissue of Chicken Man with Book of Life Interview

Friday, October 12th, 2007 by Brian Seidman

Celebrate the return of Michelle Edwards’ Chicken Man with a new Book of Life audio interview!

Junebug Books is pleased to be re-releasing Michelle Edwards’ National Jewish Book Award-winning illustrated children’s book, Chicken Man. Chicken Man is the story of Rody, an Israeli kibbutznik who loves his job tending to the chickens. He makes his work seem so delightful that everyone wants a chance to tend the brood. When they do, Rody is transferred elsewhere. But as Rody moves from job to job, the kibbutz learns it’s not what you do, but how you do it that makes a difference.

“There were a lot of people who felt strongly about Chicken Man,” Edwards noted, speaking with Heidi Estrin of the Book of Life podcast. She notes that she believes that part of the original popularity of the Chicken Man book was due to the slice of Israeli life that Chicken Man shows. The new edition of Chicken Man includes an updated note from Edwards, discussing how kibbutz life has changed in Israel over the years since Chicken Man was first released.

Listen to the full interview with Michelle Edwards at the Book of Life website.

Chicken Man is forthcoming from NewSouth Books. Visit the NewSouth Books Chicken Man book page for more information.

Kathryn Tucker Windham: Alabama, One Big Front Porch Returns to Print; Busier Than Ever Calendar

Monday, October 1st, 2007 by Suzanne La Rosa

On October 23 at 4pm, Kathryn Tucker Windham kicks off the 2007-2008 season of Alabama Voices: Writers in the Communities with a front-porch reading and book-signing at the Haigler House in Montgomery’s Old Alabama Town. Alabama Voices was begun in 1995, and is co-sponsored by the Alabama Writers’ Forum and the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities, with funding from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, Alabama Writers’ Forum, and Auburn University. Mrs. Windham will tell stories from one of her favorite books, Alabama, One Big Front Porch, re-published last month by NewSouth Books with the support of Alabama Southern Community College.

The October 23 program ushers in a busy season for Alabama’s beloved storyteller. Among the many dates of Mrs. Windham’s calendar:

  • 10/11: a noon program at the Selma-Dallas County Public Library in Selma, Alabama;
  • 10/12-13: programs at the Selma 29th Annual Tale-Tellin’ Festival in Selma, Alabama;
  • 10/20: a speaking program at the Samford University Library in Birmingham;
  • 10/23: a front-porch reading and book-signing in Old Alabama Town at the Haigler House in Montgomery, Alabama;
  • 10/25-28: appearances at the Athens Tale-Telling Festival in Athens, Alabama;
  • 11/11: story-telling at the Ashland Theatre, in Ashland, Alabama, a program supported by the Ashland City Library;
  • 11/15: an evening of storytelling at the Benjamin Russell High School in Alex City, Alabama;
  • 12/8: a book-signing at Montgomery’s Capitol Book & News for their Holiday Open House;
  • 12/16: a slide show of Mrs. Windham’s photographs, with a reception and book-signing to follow, at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama.
  • Please tell us, Mrs. Windham, do you get the Thanksgiving holiday off?

    Longleaf Author Tours Lower Alabama Schools

    Monday, October 1st, 2007 by Lyndsey

    An anonymous donor has made possible the gift of 159 copies of the young adult novel, Longleaf, recently published by NewSouth Books, to middle and elementary schools in lower Alabama. The donation was made in honor of Aaron Van Carpenter. Author Roger Reid spent last week touring South Alabama in an effort to raise awareness about the environmental significance of the longleaf pine forest and to personally deliver copies of his book to a selection of schools.

    Reid toured eight middle and elementary schools in Baldwin, Mobile, Escambia and Monroe Counties in areas not too distant from Alabama’s Conecuh Forest. He was accompanied by Randy Mecredy, director of the Alabama Museum of Natural History, and Mark Hainds, research coordinator for the Longleaf Alliance, an Alabama-based conservation organization. The school visits were successful enough that a second tour is currently being considered.

    In an interview with Josh Bean of the Mobile Press-Register, Reid said he, “just fell in love with the longleaf pine forest in Covington County,” when he made a visit there in the late 1990s.

    Bean commented that Reid is now “bringing that love to south Alabama school children.”

    Visit the Mobile Press-Register to read the full article.

    Roger Reid and Discovering Alabama host Doug Phillips will be participating in a two-part lecture on the longleaf ecosystem at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens on September 30. For more information about the event, visit the Botanical Gardens website.

    Longleaf is available now from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite online or local book retailers.