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mall little patches of corn and cotton, my roots go back to the days of mules, when most of us owed for 40 acres or so.

I planted the cotton; I chopped the cotton, and I picked the

cotton. I gathered the corn, the eggs, and plowed the fields. Nothing touches me like the smell of a freshly plowed field and seeing the satisfaction in the farmer’s eyes of a hard job well done. I can still remember the stain of the cotton dust on my tanned skin, and the cotton pick

My Home’s In Alabama

sack, and the scales that hung on the back of the pickup truck that told me how much the cotton weighed. I can still hear the old dinner bell that grandma rang for everyone out in the field signaling it was time to eat. It was a cold December night when my mother told my father it was time for their first born to come. My nervous father carried my mother to The Guest Clinic in Fort Payne,Alabama, DeKalb County, where that next day Dr. Noble delivered me, their only son, weighing seven pounds, 11 ounces. ®

BY R A N DY OW E N

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When Daddy carried Mama, he drove her in a new Chevrolet pickup, which he would later have to give up and let one of his brothers “take up the payments,” so he could afford me and have the money “to make a crop” that Spring. He bought a $50 Dodge pickup to get by. My mother, an auburn-haired, dark-eyed beauty, is from Cherokee County around the Rinehart community. She went to school at Rinehart and then on to Gaylesville High School where she was an excellent student. She met Daddy, Gladstone Yeuell Owen, a dark-skinned, dark-eyed, dark-haired, handsome dude, at a singing school on Lookout Mountain at The Wesleyn Church near Adamsburg. He was one of 12 children; she was one of seven. They were married July 25, 1947. Martha Alice Teague, my mother, was a miracle child. She was born with the cord wrapped around her neck and not breathing.A lady named Alice did mouth to mouth until my mother started breathing, thus, the name Martha Alice. I lost my father in 1980 just as success in the music business was coming my way. The fever he had at the age of 13 had damaged his heart, and he told me many times what saved him was an all night prayer vigil held at Papa and Grandma Owens’s house while grandma Owen rubbed coal oil on his chest. ®

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© BETTMANN/CORBIS

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© JOHN DERSHAM

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He was a great example for me to follow. He loved the outdoors, especially telling me about the trees and teaching me by example how to conserve the land and love the soil that made our living. Mama totally supported my dad and they loved one another. They raised three children. Mama is still living almost the same traditions as she and Daddy did. She still raises her own garden. She doesn’t milk the cows, but she still churns the butter from the milk she gets from one of my cousins out in the country; she has “city water” and “central heat and air” instead of a wood stove and fireplace. When I started the first grade at Adamsburg Junior High School, I was already home schooled and could do most everything we were doing in the first grade. I went two weeks in the second grade before Mrs. Blake called in my mother to suggest I move up to the third grade, namely, because I was a disturbance and seemed bored in the second grade. I graduated from Adamsburg Junior High, dropped out of school, only to be inspired to go to Fort Payne High School by Mrs. Ellis, one of the many ®

A VIEW OF BEAUTIFUL FORT PAYNE, home of Lookout Mountain. Martha Alice and Gladstone Yeuell Owen (right).

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wonderful teachers and professors I have known in my life. I graduated from Fort Payne High School, went on to Northeast State Junior College, which is now Northeast Community College, and received my BA degree from Jacksonville State University. None of this was easy because I was the first in my family to get a college degree. I’m very grateful to the education system in Alabama, which gave me the opportunities to get through all the hurdles and tough times that a very poor farm kid had to endure. Alabama’s farmers and ranchers do an amazing job in order to supply food and fiber to the world. I’m a cowboy that grew up with my dad who raised livestock. I grew up going to the auction barns and learning how to treat my fellow man honestly. The moral fabric of the folks in Alabama is second to none. I’m very proud to say, “I’m an ALABAMIAN.” The state of Alabama is so diversified and so special in such a variety of ways. I can’t even write about all of them, but from my perspective, I’ll give you a small view of my state. In northeast Alabama, where I was born and raised, you have Little River Canyon, DeSoto Falls, and Lookout Mountain; you have some of the most pristine water in the world. The Little River Canyon Preserve is one of the ®

LITTLE RIVER CANYON is an immeasurable wealth to residents, visitors and future generations. It is said to be among the cleanest and wildest waterways in the South.

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PHOTO COURTESY OF ALABAMA TOURISM DEPARTMENT

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most unique areas I’ve ever seen; it was my playground when I was growing up. Most of my weekends were spent fishing, swimming, or hunting around the Canyon. I still go there for inspiration. I’ve been so fortunate because of the music industry to own several acres of land joining the Preserve. I love to vacation around Point Clear,Alabama, and the Bay and the beaches of Alabama.The most beautiful, sandy beaches, and the beautiful charm of the ‘Old South’ still exists along the Coast.The Grand Hotel is one of my favorite places in the world to relax.The food prepared by the many fine restaurants in the Fairhope, Mobile, Orange Beach, Perdido Beach, and Gulf Shores areas is truly amazing. How could I ever forget about the fun at the FloraBama, a landmark that even hurricanes couldn’t destroy! My first drive through the tunnel to Mobile Bay was a thrill I’ll never forget. I was there during Mardi Gras, and just so you know, the folks at Mobile originally started Mardi Gras.All the beautiful coastal areas around Mobile make up a very uniquely diverse region. Mobile has its own distinct character, and it’s a much warmer climate during the winter months than where I’m from in northeast Alabama.A friend told me jokingly that there are only two or three days ®

FAIRHOPE’S MUNICIPAL PIER, the Yardarm provides a backdrop of beautiful sunsets over Mobile Bay. The Flora-Bama (right) was originally constructed in 1964, after the road connecting Orange Beach, AL with Perdido Key, FL was completed.

 © J. ESCUE

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© J. ESC UE

during the year that it’s too cold to play golf in the Mobile area.And we cannot forget the beauty and charm of Ono Island, Dauphin Island, Bon Secour, Bay Minette, and the fishing industry, which is so vital to our state’s economy. The city of Montgomery is a historical encyclopedia just waiting to ignite your intellect. So much history has been made at our beautiful State Capital. ALABAMA had the pleasure of performing the National Anthem at many inaugurations there on Dexter Avenue and also performing at the Inaugural Balls. Hank Williams, Sr., my daddy’s favorite singer/songwriter, is also one of my musical heroes. He was born in Alabama and is buried in Montgomery. There’s little that I can say that would adequately show his tremendous influence on all kinds of music. In the Muscle Shoals area, there are acres and acres of cotton.Among that setting, the greatest songwriters, musicians, producers, and artists have emerged. From the historical Fame Studios, the likes of Wilson Pickett, ®

THE ROBERT TRENT JONES GOLF TRAIL at The Shoals is home to two 18-hole championship courses. It overlooks the Tennessee River and historic Wilson Dam in Florence.

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PHOTO COURTESY OF THE RESORT COLLECTION ON THE ROBERT TRENT JONES GOLF TRAIL

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Mac Davis, Paul Anka, Osmond Brothers,Aretha Franklin, and Bobbie Gentry have recorded many worldwide hits as well as many, many others. Rick Hall and The Hall Family still operate Fame Studios. So much of the music still heard today has influence and backgrounds that started from Muscle Shoals. Many other musicians, songwriters, and publishers, like the late Buddy Killen, got their start in Alabama. The Muscle Shoals Sound, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, and The Swampers are musical terms known throughout the world. The Alabama Music Hall Of Fame, which I’m very proud to say, I helped to get started with the help of some great visionaries and politicians, is a “must see” attraction. And located in Tuscumbia is the home of Helen Keller, another amazing Alabamian. Jimmie Rodgers, who was the singing brakeman, was born in Alabama. His influence on the world of music is truly amazing. To truly appreciate the Shoals area music, just visit, and don’t get in a hurry to learn about the musical heritage. ®

DESOTO STATE PARK is accented by rushing waterfalls and fragrant wildflowers. The best time to see this small five foot waterfall is in the Spring or Winter seasons.

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From the Shoals, travel to Paint Rock, home of renowned songwriter Curly Putnam, and on towards Sand Mountain where the Delmore Brothers, Louvin Brothers and the Gospel Music of Vestal Goodman and so many more originated.There’s also music sung acappella in small country churches. This music has become popular all over again and popularized in the movies.The thousands of churches with great heartfelt, soulful music doctor the landscapes of ‘My Alabama.’ If you get a chance to listen to The Alabama Symphony, please do so, as it is an incredible musical experience.The many high school bands and university bands like the “Marching Southerners” of my alma mater, Jacksonville State University, are all supremely well-trained and presented. W.C. Handy, the father of the Blues, is one of the musical heroes in Alabama. Only recently, two winners of American Idol, Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hicks, call Alabama home. Bo Bice came close. Thank God for Birmingham with its incredible medical facilities that make us all proud. Also, one of my fondest memories is singing the National Anthem before a packed crowd at Legion Field before a football game ®

THE ALABAMA THEATRE, “Showplace of the South.” Each year the Theatre hosts over 300 events attended by a half million Birmingham area citizens.

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF JSU

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between the University of Tennessee and the University of Alabama.To say that football is important to the people of Alabama is an understatement. My daughter is currently attending Auburn University, studying to become a veterinarian and follow in the footsteps of becoming a university graduate like her sister Alison, a Jacksonville State University graduate, and her brother Heath, a graduate of Samford University. The new Jacksonville State University Field School is an amazing addition to the spectacular adventures of Little River, Lookout Mountain, and Little River Canyon. It is a must see educational attraction. Education is extremely important to my family. I get truly excited to see our youth become graduates of our fine schools and universities. Here in Alabama, we also have some of the most modern and sophisticated industries, especially the auto industry. I truly appreciate every job created because I’ve worked most every kind of job there is. I love and respect the working men and women in Alabama.They make me proud and they make our state great! The space industry in the Huntsville area takes us to greater heights in technology than my grandparents ever dreamed possible.When you visit ®

The 125 year old JACKSONVILLE STATE UNIVERSITY is nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians and surrounded by 375,000 acres of the lush Talladega National Forrest. Randy Owen’s JSU graduation photo (right).

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Alabama, you must see The Space and Rocket Center. It will dazzle you what people with brilliant minds can do. The Military Installations in our state are home to the finest soldiers in the world. My state has given far more than its share to keep America free. I truly admire our men and women in uniform, and I thank them for the jobs they do for Alabama and for our great nation. Only a few months ago, we saw our local National Guard Unit from Fort Payne, Alabama, off to Iraq. A huge crowd was there. I was asked to sing the National Anthem and that was a special moment for me and my wife Kelly because she knows the price of freedom as a sister and a daughter of two officers in the U.S.Army. Our prayers are with all the men and women who serve in Iraq and with their families for a safe return to their homes. I’m a fan of NASCAR. It’s something me and my dad enjoyed, listening to it on the radio. Now,Alabama has the world’s fastest track,Talladega International Raceway, which is also the home of the International Motor Sports Hall Of Fame. A definite must see. If you’d like to see a race, that’s even better. 

A PROUD AMERICAN — Randy strumming his guitar. Photo courtesy of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.

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The economic impact of the Superspeedway is truly amazing, and I’m proud to say, I’ve been Grand Marshall of a race at Talladega. I watched as my friend Dale Earnhardt won his last race there.The day I’ll never forget. The Allison brothers, Donnie and Bobby, and Neal Bonnet, Red Farmer, the Flock Family, Davey Allison, and many others, have had a huge impact on NASCAR and are sports heroes and friends.All have Alabama roots. I love everything from the dirt tracts to the drag strips. We have 67 unique counties in Alabama, and every one of them has something special to see.We still have dusty, dirt roads that lead to home places with screen doors, and old porches with memories that bring us back to our roots in Alabama - The Beautiful. There are farmers driving their tractors and trucks on county roads, and professionals driving their luxury automobiles. It takes all of us to make up my home state of Alabama. There’s nothing quite like the sound of rain on a tin roof, and thunder and lightning as you look out at the summer sky. These natural happenings seem so special to me. I remember a porch swing where I sat and dreamed and imagined what could be, while smelling the biscuits that Mama was making for breakfast on her woodstove with the fire crackling. ®

Some of the acreage at DOWN ON THE FARM, PUMPKIN PATCH/CORN FIELD is located in Rainsville, Alabama. The biggest, fastest and most competitive superspeedway in the world – Talladega Superspeedway.

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I remember drawing a bucket of fresh freestone water that quenched the thirst like nothing I ever tasted before or since. We still have country stores, small towns, and God-fearing folks; men who respect the ladies; kids who say,“Yes sir and No sir”; family gardens; and people with big hearts.Yet, we’re modern, and in some respects, our traditions are important to us all. We like syrup and butter, watermelons, biscuits and gravy, vine-ripened tomatoes, sweet tea, fried squash and okra, and Mama’s fried apple pies. We pay tribute to our loved ones who have passed before us by having annual decorations at the cemeteries. We still have family reunions, baptizings in the river, and swimming holes with inner tubes and tire swings. We still have trees to climb, and we still enjoy the outdoors and nature. We still stop on the roadside when a funeral procession passes by to show our respect for the loved ones who have passed away and to their families. ® THE MENTONE WEDDING CHAPEL atop Lookout Mountain is a lovely romantic setting. In a unique and touching ceremony. LIFE-SIZE BRONZE STATUES of the group Alabama were unveiled and now stand forever in their hometown of Fort Payne.

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I usually celebrate Thanksgiving by the huge fireplace with my mama and sisters and their families at our cabin on the canyon. It makes my mama happy and that’s important to me. We usher in the holidays by playing Alabama’s Christmas Albums/CDs. It is,“Christmas In Dixie.” It is a tradition to take my family out in our woods and cut a cedar tree for Christmas just as my daddy and grandpas did, and we always hope for snow! I thank God I was born here, that I grew up here, that I still live here, and that I made the choice in life to do something with my talents. My favorite times are spent on foggy misty mornings; sittin’ on my porch, with a handmade quilt sewn by my grandmother; the swing built by my cousins, from lumber that was cut off my land; with my cats and dogs close by, as I’m listening to the birds singing and the rooster crowing; and watching the Hereford and Angus mama cows with their babies grazing the lush green grass.Then I’ll take a good cup of coffee, ride down to the canyon, and thank God that I was born here,

my home’s in Alabama.

raised my family here, and that

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Profile for Gigi Phillips

Alabama Home Sweet Home Introduction  

Introduction to book Alabama Home Sweet Home written by Randy Owen

Alabama Home Sweet Home Introduction  

Introduction to book Alabama Home Sweet Home written by Randy Owen

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