Alabama is one the top country bands of all time. Their career has spanned over 40 years, they have over 75 million album sales, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and 43 number one hit songs, including my childhood favorite – “Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)”. Randy Owen, Jeff Cook and Teddy Gentry, the talented musicians and cousins behind the legendary country music band Alabama are back and better than ever with their beautiful uplifting new album “Angels Among Us: Hymns & Gospel Favorites”. They joined me for an interview yesterday to discuss the new album and the inspiration behind it, their favorite hymns and how they’ve shaped their lives, their hit song “Angels Among Us” and the impact the song “Raising Alabama” has had.
Candace Rose: You’ve sold over 75 million albums and have 43 number one hit songs. Can you tell us about your new album “Angels Among Us: Hymns and Gospel Favorites”?
Jeff Cook: “It’s in conjunction with Cracker Barrel stores and the Gaither Organization. They already had a good working relationship and we were asked to put out this CD, and it has three bonus tracks if you get it through Cracker Barrel.”
Randy Owen: “The bonus tracks are “Knights of Molite”, “The Last Alter Call” – a song Jeff wrote, and then “Oh, The Lord Has Been Good To Me” which is one of my favorites. I have two favorites “Because He Lives” and “Oh, The Lord Has Been Good To Me” and “Oh, The Lord Has Been Good To Me”. The Lord has been good to me, I’m a cancer survivor and I’m very grateful for that. I’m sitting here with my two buddies and we’re still playing music together. I’ve got on a new pair of sneakers and I’m going to have to talk to Teddy about his. He’s due for a new pair.”
Candace Rose: You mention your Christian faith in many of your hit songs. Have you always had aspirations of creating this album of hymns and gospel favorites?
Teddy Gentry: “This is actually the first music that we grew up on. The first song I ever remember hearing, and I was in church probably, so it was years later before I ever heard country or rock and roll, but gospel is what we cut our teeth on growing up and a lot of these songs, like Randy said earlier, we didn’t have to have a lyric sheet, we knew them by heart, they’re engrained in your memory.”
Randy Owen: “Just go back and listen to your dad, your mom, your grandpa and your aunts and uncles and there’s the songs. We wish we could do more because it’s really just like reliving your childhood almost for us because that’s the songs we grew up with.”
Jeff Cook: “Let me mention that this is exclusive in Cracker Barrel until the end of the month and then it will be in other locations, but the only place you can get the extra three is through Cracker Barrel.”
Candace Rose: The songs on the album are all so uplifting. How did you choose which songs to include?
Teddy Gentry: “Well, we had a list that me, Randy and Jeff went through of our favorite stuff and then the Gaither label sent us another 25 or 30 songs that they liked also, so between all of the lists we had we narrowed it down to about a dozen of the old classics and we have three new songs on here as well.”
Candace Rose: The song “Angels Among Us” was released as a Christmas single in 1993, and is one of Alabama’s biggest hits. Can you tell us what the song means to you and why it resonates with so many people around the world?
Randy Owen: “That song means so much to all of us because it was amazing how it took a life of its own in spite of record companies not looking at it with the best view and when they realized that it wouldn’t go away and we were totally surprised. Becky Hobbs wrote the song, and it’s a true about what happened to her in a horrible car accident. There are so many stories about what that song means to people and we were going back thinking, talking ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had a live version of ‘Angels Among Us’? And lo and behold we have recorded at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia and the sound guy said ‘I recorded that song’, so what you hear on this CD is just a live version and a magical moment of when we did ‘Angels Among Us’ at the Fox.”
Candace Rose: You debuted the song ‘Raising Alabama’ at the Bama Rising Benefit Concert for Tornado Relief in 2011. Can you tell us about the song and the impact it has had on others?
Teddy Gentry: “That song, for days after the event, that’s all that was on the news on TV showing pictures of the devastation. I think that me, Randy and Jeff all talked the next morning after the tornadoes went through and we felt that we needed to do something – get back together and have a concert and try to raise some money for these victims here, and that’s exactly what happened with the help of a lot of our music friends that came down and gave their time so graciously. We had a concert, like Randy said, yesterday, it was probably one of the biggest shows that’s ever been in our part of our country as far as the amount of artists and the quality of artist and how well it went off and on. It was an incredible show.”
Candace Rose: Where can your fans go for more information on Alabama and to see you all on tour?
Teddy Gentry: “TheAlabamaBand.com. You can get on our website, it’s got our schedule on there and where we’re playing at. And as far as the music, they can go by Cracker Barrel and pick up this deluxe edition. It’s got 15 cuts on it. They can also order it on CrackerBarrel.com. After October 1st it’ll be available at almost all retail outlets nationwide.”