Alabama Music Achievers

Alphabetical Achievers Listing


THE O'JAYS - Birmingham, Alabama
- Eddie Levert (Birmingham, AL) and Walter Williams sang together as a gospel duo before forming a doo-wop group, the Mascots, with William Powell, Bobby Massey and Bill Isles in 1958. They became the O'Jays in 1963
- During the 1960s the band found success with "Stand For Love" (#12 R&B, 1966), "I'll Be Sweeter Tomorrow" (#8 R&B) in 1967, "One Night Affair" (#15 R&B, 1969) and "Looky Looky (Look at me, Girl)" (#17 R&B, 1970).
- In the 1970s, the O'Jays began an impressive string of gold and platinum recordings. They had eight #1 R&B singles from 1972 to 1978, including "Back Stabbers" (#3 Pop) in 1972; "Love Train" (#1 Pop) in 1973; "Give The People What They Want" (#45 Pop) and "I Love Music" (Part 1) (#5 Pop) in 1975; and "Used Ta Be My Girl" (#4 Pop) in 1978.
- Eight of their LPs of this period were certified gold, 1978's "So Full Of Love" going platinum.
- The band was one of the most popular black vocal groups of the Seventies.

JOHNNY O'NEAL - Birmingham, Alabama
- At 19, he made his first recording and went on to perform at New York's Blue Note club.
- As a member of Art Blakey's prestigious Jazz Messengers, O'Neal performed with some of the great jazz divas Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson and Carmen McRae.
- He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1985.
- He was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1998.

OAK RIDGE BOYS - Brewton, Alabama
- Originally called the Country Cut Ups, the Oak Ridge Boys were formed in 1942.
- They were renamed the Oak Ridge Quartet and recorded their first records in 1947
- The group disbanded in 1956 but reformed a year later by original member, Smitty Gatlin (Florence, AL). He left the group in 1966.
- They became full time professionals in 1961 and changed from the Oak Ridge Quartet to the Oak Ridge Boys.
- William Lee Golden (Brewton, AL) became their baritone in 1964. He would leave the group in 1986 only to return in the 1990s.
- They established themselves as the best loved white gospel group in the USA and they won numerous awards and Grammys.
- The Oaks had a major country hit with "Y'All Come Back Saloon," topped the country charts with "I'll Be True To You," the classic "Leavin' Louisiana In The Broad Daylight" and "Trying To Love Two Women."
- In 1981 they made # 5 on the pop charts with "Elvira" and followed it with "Bobbie Sue" at # 12.

MAC ODELL - Roanoke, Alabama
-With wife Addie they appeared on WLAC radio in Nashville for many years
-Wrote songs recorded by Roy Acuff, Flatt & Scruggs, Cowboy Copas and others

ODETTA HOLMES - Birmingham, Alabama
- Known as Odetta, she was an American singer, actress, guitarist, songwriter, and a civil and human rights activist, often referred to as "The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement".
- Her musical repertoire consisted largely of American folk music,blues, jazz, and spirituals. An important figure in the American folk music revival of the 1950's and 1960's, she was influential to many of the key figures of the folk-revival of that time, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mavis Staples, and Janis Joplin.
- Martin Luther King Jr. called her "the queen of American folk music."
-On September 29, 1999, President Bill Clinton presented Odetta with the National Endowment for the Arts' National Medal of Arts. In 2004, the Kennedy Center honored her with the "Visionary Award". In 2005, the Library of Congress honored her with its "Living Legend Award". In December 2006, the Winnipeg Folk Festival honored Odetta with their "Lifetime Achievement Award". In February 2007, the International Folk Alliance awarded Odetta as "Traditional Folk Artist of the Year

MARY EARLE OGLETREE - Birmingham, Alabama
- Vocalist in "The Alabama Cavaliers" while a student at The University of Alabama during the 1940s.
- Has served as vocalist for the "Auburn Knights" reunion every July in Auburn, AL. for over 20 years.
- Performed with Harry Connick, Sr., and his band in New Orleans on several occasions.
- In 1979, became the vocalist for Joe Giattina's seventeen piece band, the "Bama Cardinals."
- Inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1994.

"SPOONER" OLDHAM - Center Star, Alabama
-As a songwriter and session musician, on keyboards, he recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and at FAME Studios on such hit R&B songs as "When a Man Loves a Woman" by Percy Sledge, "Mustang Sally" by Wilson Pickett and "I Never Loved a Man" by Aretha Franklin.
As a songwriter, Spooner Oldham teamed with Dan Penn to write such hits as "Cry Like a Baby" (The Box Tops), "I'm Your Puppet" (James and Bobby Purify), "A Woman Left Lonely" and "It Tears Me Up" (Percy Sledge).
-He moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1967 and teamed up with Penn at Chips Moman's American Studios.Oldham later moved to Los Angeles and has continued to be a sought-after backing musician.
- He has recorded and performed with such artists as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Delaney Bramlett, Joe Cocker, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, the Everly Brothers, Dickey Betts and J. J. Cale
-On April 4, 2009, Oldham was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

ORION - Orrville, Alabama
-Orion was the stage name of Jimmy Ellis, his double-edged claim to fame was that his natural speaking and singing voice sounded almost exactly like that of Elvis Presley.
-Recorded for Sun Records in late 70's with some success in the charts
-Orion recorded 11 albums and appeared on shows with the Oak Ridge Boys, Jerry Lee Lewis, Reba McEntire, Ricky Skaggs, Lee Greenwood, Ronnie Milsap and Dionne Warwick.

JOHN H. ORR - Opelika, Alabama
- As a young man he established and managed one of the first radio stations in Alabama, WJHO in Opelika.
- During World War II he became one of a team who uncovered the secrets of an amazing new recording medium developed by the Germans - magnetic recording tape.
- Recognizing its potential, Mr. Orr returned to the States after the war and began his own experiments in tape production.
- Out of his pioneer endeavors in this field came Irish Tape and ORRadio Industries - one of the first companies to produce magnetic tape in the United States.
- This discovery revolutionized the audio and video recording process.
- The Pioneer Award for The Alabama Music Hall of Fame was named in his honor.

RANDY OWEN - Ft. Payne, Alabama
- Lead vocalist for the group Alabama as well as songwriter of some of their most memorable hits.
- The group, influenced by gospel, country, bluegrass, British rock, Southern rock and a fusion of the country blues coming out of Muscle Shoals, began playing together in 1969.
- Randy's song "My Home's in Alabama" in 1980 was the first top 20 hit by the group. Another of his songs, "Fallin' Again", was awarded BMI's Most Performed Country Song of 1989.
- Owen also wrote the number one hits, "Face To Face," "Feels So Right," "Lady Down On Love," and "Tennessee River," "Mountain Music" and "Fallin' Again"

JAMES OWENS - Birmingham, Alabama
- As a member of Bobby Goldsboro's first band, The Webs Owens was introduced to his first recording studio playing guitar for a demo tape of "See The Funny Little Clown."
- Owens moved to Memphis in 1972 and recorded two records eventually rising to Number 23 in Billboard magazine, selling in excess of 100,000 copies.
- He moved to Nashville and in addition to his club dates and frequent studio work he began working as guitarist for Mel Tillis, both in his road band and in the studio.
- In 1977, Owens left Tillis and joined the Ronnie Milsap Organization. He played guitar in the road band and did studio work for Milsap, including playing guitar on Ronnie Milsap's Greatest Hits album in 1977.
- Owens became a highly demanded studio musician playing with most of the industry stars at one time or another.
- In late 1978, he opened his own advertising and promotion agency. In 1981, he was awarded two "Addie" awards for advertising excellence.

WILL OWSLEY - Anniston, Alabama
- In 1987, he moved to Nashville to look for work as a session musician and landed a job as the guitarist for funk artist Judson Spence. He had a video on MTV and VH-1 and toured Japan and Europe.
- He began working with pianist and songwriter Ben Folds who introduced him to Millard Powers and they all started writing and working together. That collaboration led to the power-pop band called The Semantics. The group also included drummer Zak Starkey, son of Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.
- Amy Grant asked Owsley to play guitar in her touring band. He spent almost two years on the road and also performed on her 1997 album, "Behind the Eyes."
- Producer Mutt Lange recruited Owsley to sing and play guitar with Shania Twain for several TV appearances following the release of her debut album, "The Woman in Me." They appeared on TV with Jay Leno, Letterman, Regis & Cathy Lee, Conan O'Brien, and the American Country Music Awards Show.
- Owsley has also toured with Contemporary Christian artist Michael W. Smith.
- He wrote and served as lead singer for all of the songs on his solo rock album, "Owlsey." He also helped with engineering the album which was nominated for a Grammy award in the best-engineered album category.

Alphabetical Achievers Listing


Alphabetical Achievers Listing


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