Category Archives: Muscle Shoals Sound Studio

Upcoming events

The coming week will be a whirlwind, and one for which I’m grateful. I’ll be selling copies of “Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How the Swampers Changed American Music” at a number of events around central and north Alabama, and I’m excited to have so many opportunities to do so.

Aug. 10, 10 p.m.-midnight: Join me and The Audiovore’s Lee Shook for a two-hour discussion of Muscle Shoals music. The show airs at 107.3 FM and can be streamed at

Aug. 12, 6 p.m.: Fultondale’s free Movies in the Park, featuring a screening of the documentary “Muscle Shoals” and a performance by the Kerry Gilbert Band. Thanks to Alabama Media Group’s Sara McCarty for this great event preview: “Fultondale’s free Movies in the Park series to feature special screening of of ‘Muscle Shoals’ music documentary”

Aug. 14, 6 p.m.: Muscle Shoals Chapter of Credit Unions (private event) I’m looking forward to speaking to this group, which I’m told includes a number of musicians.

Aug. 15, 6 p.m.: Birmingham Arts and Music Festival Muscle Shoals Tribute at Avondale Brewing Co. I’ll be selling books while listening to the music of Bad Brad and the Sipsey Slims with the Legends of Muscle Shoals, including David Hood, Kelvin Holley and Will McFarland

Aug. 16, 11 am.-2 p.m.: Coldwater Books in Tuscumbia. I hope to see friends from the Shoals area at this charming bookstore.

Aug. 19, 7 p.m.: I’m excited to sign copies at Church Street Coffee & Books–and this event will be fun for people who already have the book as well as those who don’t! Carrie Rollwagen will interview me about the book in between sets of live music (covering some of the area’s iconic songs, of course). The shop will also serve free whiskey sours. Thanks to Village Living for including the event in the paper’s August issue: “Signing for Muscle Shoals history book coming to Church Street this month.” 


Filed under Books, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Press

It’s release day for “Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How the Swampers Changed American Music”

It’s been more than a year since I decided to tackle this project, and yet it still doesn’t quite seem real. Tonight we’ll launch “Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How the Swampers Changed American Music” with a book signing at Alabama Booksmith. In the meantime, take a peek at reviews of music recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound and stories about the studio on my Muscle Shoals Sound Studio Pinterest board. Hope to see you tonight!

Follow Carla Jean Whitley’s board Muscle Shoals Sound Studio on Pinterest.

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Five days till “Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How the Swampers Changed American Music” debuts

20140716-214235-78155400.jpgThanks to Weld for Birmingham for including my Alabama Booksmith signing in this week’s calendar of events! It’ll be the debut of “Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How the Swampers Changed American Music,” and I’m excited for that day to finally arrive.

You can find copies of Weld, a great weekly newspaper, in 400 locations all around Birmingham. (PS Weld’s editor, Nick Patterson, recently published a book of his own. Look for “Birmingham Foot Soldiers” wherever books are sold.)

CITY_SCENEThanks, also, to The Birmingham News’ City Scene for including my signing in last Friday’s paper. I’ll confess, seeing my name in print hasn’t gotten old, even after 10 years in this field and even after working at that very paper. The Birmingham News is published Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays and is widely distributed throughout the metro area.




Filed under Books, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Press

I must be traveling on now ’cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see

We’re one week from the debut of “Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How the Swampers Changed American Music,” and I can hardly wait! I’m also excited to share the book’s most recent press coverage. Alec Harvey, the managing producer of entertainment, dining and travel at Alabama Media Group, asked me to share my favorite songs recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. It was a challenge, and I couldn’t stop at my original list of five (so you get a bonus song!). But here’s the fun thing: You can listen to these and other songs yourself via the Spotify playlist below. I’d like to know, what are your favorite examples of the Muscle Shoals sound?

Carla Jean Whitley knows a lot about Muscle Shoals.

For the past year or so, the managing editor of Birmingham magazine has been researching and writing her first book, “Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How the Swampers Changed American Music.”

The book, a history of the famed recording studio in northwest Alabama, details the many superstars who have recorded there, the songs they sang, and, of course, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, a group of studio musicians better known as the Swampers. Read more “‘ Muscle Shoals Sound Studio’ author details her favorite songs recorded there” at

Today’s subject line comes from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird,” which was originally recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. Learn more about the studio 

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Filed under Audio, Books, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, music, Press

Pre-order my book, “Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How the Swampers Changed American Music”

Muscle Shoals Sound Studio coverWe’re one month away from the release of “Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How the Swampers Changed American Music,” a history of one of northwest Alabama’s legendary recording studios. That means there’s plenty of time for pre-orders! Here are your options:

  1. Alabama Booksmith: My first book signing will be at Alabama Booksmith on July 21 at 4 p.m. I’m thrilled to kick off the book there! Jake Reiss cultivates relationships with authors and readers alike, and every visit to his store is a treat. (Every book on the Booksmith’s shelves is autographed! Bonus.) And although it has absolutely nothing to do with me and my book, I’m excited for the “Mockingbird” event the Booksmith will host on July 23 at the Alabama Theatre. Won’t you join me?
  2. Church Street Coffee and Books: I’m a big fan of local bookstores, and I’m grateful that one of mine has partnered with me in the pre-order process. If you’re into autographed books, this is another great option; when you order, leave a note indicating that you’d like the book autographed, and I’ll do so before it’s sent your way.
  3. The History Press: You can also order the book directly from the publisher. They’d love it if you left a nice comment about the book, whether you buy it from them or elsewhere.
  4. Barnes and Noble: One of the great things about working with The History Press is their distribution relationships; my book will available at Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million locations. (Sorry, Mom and Dad–it will likely be readily available in Alabama, but I can’t promise it’ll be on the shelves everywhere.)
  5. Books-A-Million: It’s one of the nation’s largest bookstores, but Books-A-Million also supports my local economy, as it’s based in Birmingham, Ala.
  6. Amazon: Be sure to check out my author page while you’re there. (I’m tickled to bits to have an author page!)

If you’re more inclined to borrow a book from your local library, I would love for you to check my book out! It isn’t yet available for request in my library system, but I do hope they’ll have it on the shelves of at least one location. I am a big believer in the value of libraries, and I would be honored if you checked my book out from yours.

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My first bit of book-related press!

If you know me well, you know I’m reluctant to use exclamation marks in my writing. But some events justify their use, and this is one of them:

Today, I received the first bit of press coverage for my forthcoming book, “Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.” The book, a history of a landmark studio in the northwest corner of Alabama, is set for publication on July 22. Many thanks to Jennifer Stewart Kornegay and LEAN Magazine for recommending my work to their readers! You can read the summer issue online at (I’m on page 31) or pick up a copy at many CVS and Publix locations throughout Alabama. Pre-order the book at 

0614 Lean magazine


Filed under Books, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Press

Write, write, write, write

I’m not being the best friend right now–and that’s hard for me. I love being able to swing by a friend’s house when she calls and says dinner’s on, or enjoy a mid-week girls’ night with another while her husband is out of town. But right now, I’ve got to hunker down and write.

My manuscript is due on April 7. It’s hard to believe! And there’s still plenty of work to do (isn’t how these things always go?). But I’m excited to be racing toward the finish. I’ve left the “I can’t do this!” phase, am growing increasingly comfortable in the “I can probably do this” phase, hope to soon move into “I can do this!” and can’t wait to get to “I’ve done it!”

In the meantime, I’m still allowing myself a few minutes here and there to write personal projects–including my semi-regular blog posts for Church Street Coffee and Books, where I’m documenting my journey as a first-time author.

The countdown is on: My manuscript is due to my editor three weeks from yesterday.
Although it’s been 11 months since he verbally accepted my proposal and nearly nine months since I received the signed contract, these final days are proving the most intense part of the book-writing process. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised; writers, like people in a number of other fields, are renowned for their procrastination tactics. Just earlier today, a former newspaper columnist told me she enjoyed having written, past tense.

Read more “Keep Calm and Get Over Yourself” at

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Filed under Autobiography, Bits & Pieces, Books, Insecurity, Journalism, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio

Behind the scenes of writing a book

Helper Harry

Helper Harry

I’ve been blogging about the process of writing my first book for Postscript, the blog of Church Street Coffee and Books. As you can imagine, I’m thrilled to have both my first and second books under contract, but the process isn’t as glamorous as you might think. (That tends to be true of writing in general, don’t you think?)

In my latest entry on Postscript, I offer readers a glimpse into the day-to-day process of writing a book.

There are a lot of mental and psychological gymnastics that go into the book-writing process, at least in my experience. I’ve written about those a fair bit since I began documenting the process of writing my first book. But I haven’t written as much about the nuts and bolts of writing.

Read more “Writing checklist: Research, planning and kittens” at

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Filed under Books, Hittin' the books, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio

You’re going to hear me roar

It’s hard to silence my inner critic.

I know I’m not alone in that struggle; based on conversations with friends, it’s a common challenge for writers, editors and introverts (and I’m betting many other groups of which I’m not a part!). But even though I’m not alone, it remains difficult.

That’s been especially true as I’ve worked on my first book, which is due to my editor in April. I’m learning that it’s key to turn to others who can remind me that I’m not alone and I can do this.

Sometimes we all need a pep talk, and I’m fortunate to have so many people willing to offer it. I wrote about one of my most recent in my latest post for Postscript, Church Street Coffee and Books’ blog.

I thought I hadn’t written a single word of my book. Piles of research overwhelmed me, and I knew I had plenty of information to get started. But with my manuscript deadline hovering six months away, I honestly believed I was starting from word one.

Earlier this week I asked a friend and fellow author to deliver a pep talk over coffee. I had been feeling down about the entire book writing enterprise, and I was in danger of spiraling into “lying to myself territory.” This is ground I’ve tread often as a writer, as an introvert, as someone diagnosed with depression. But one of the greatest things I’ve learned is to ask for help when those lies start to look believable.

Read more “Overwhelmed? You Might Be Doing Better than You Think” at

Today’s title comes from “Roar” by Katy Perry. I never thought I’d quote a Katy Perry tune on here, but my roommate was just watching this video and besides, it’s a catchy song.


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Filed under Autobiography, Books, Insecurity, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio