From: The Times Daily (09-13-2001)

Senator welcomes listeners to Alabama

Bobby Denton performed traditional Southern-gospel songs during opening ceremonies for this year's W.C. Handy Music Festival.Bobby Denton enjoys his rewarding, multifaceted role as Alabama's singing senator.

"I'm in a unique position," says Denton, a veteran Muscle Shoals recording artist and longtime state senator. "It's turned out to be a great way for me to call attention to our rich musical heritage — not just in this area, but across the state."

Denton was the velvety-voiced singer behind the romantic anthem "A Fallen Star." Recorded in 1957, the country-pop smash launched the Muscle Shoals music industry with a meteoric hit. Denton later sang on television's "The Dick Clark Show" and toured with rock 'n' roll dynamo Jerry Lee Lewis.

"Then I quit the music business and decided to stay home and raise a family," Denton noted. "Now I'm singing and recording again, but this time I'm doing it purely for fun. I'm cutting new albums on a regular basis — and I'm just having a ball with it."

Denton's first few second-career sessions focused on traditional Southern gospel (1997's "My God and I," 1998's "Hope") and sentimental ballads (1999's "Love Songs"). A new album release, "Alabama Welcomes You," reflects Denton's deep-seated pride in the music of his home state.

"It's my salute to Alabama — to our music, to our people, to our values," Denton remarked. "I wanted this album to reflect my love for Alabama and what our state means to me. I've tried to do that by cutting songs that show who we are as Alabamians and how we live our lives."

The cover photo for Bobby Denton's 'Alabama Welcomes You' album was taken on U.S. 72 West, at the Alabama-Mississippi state line.The six cuts include "Alabama Reunion," a rousing anthem that became the unifying theme for a statewide celebration in 1989. The song was penned by Buddy Killen and Curly Putman, a pair of Alabama natives who went on to become two of Nashville's hottest songwriters.

"You just don't get any better than Buddy and Curly," Denton insists. "The song mentions Muscle Shoals and mountains and Mobile Bay. It calls Alabama 'a place where dreams are born and wishes do come true.' It mentions everybody from Hank Williams and Tammy Wynette to Nat 'King' Cole and the 'Father of the Blues,' W.C. Handy."

A tender new song, "Family Value," focuses on the quality of home life associated with the state. "Alabama Has It All" offers a stirring ode to the state's wide-ranging natural and personal resources. "God Loves Alabama" places the theme in a spiritual perspective, while "Old Soldiers" salutes a select group of American military veterans.

"I think it's so sad that we're losing so many of our World War II veterans — and we're losing them so fast," Denton remarked. "We owe those veterans such a debt of gratitude. They sacrificed so much to preserve a way of life that we all cherish. I don't think there's any way we can ever repay that debt."

The album closes with the state's best-known musical standard, the enduring classic "Stars Fell on Alabama."

I recorded another version of it on the 'Love Songs' album, Denton noted. "But I wasn't totally satisfied with the way the production turned out on that one. This album offered us a chance to go back and do it again. I'm a lot more pleased with the way it sounds now."

Denton's "Alabama Welcomes You" was recorded and mixed at Sound House Sound Studio in Mississippi and Jimmy Johnson's Swamper Sound Studio in Sheffield.

"I had some great people working on every phase of this project," noted Denton, who also produced the album. "Jimmy Johnson was my associate producer, and Mike Mihelic was the engineer. Plus we had some of the best players and background singers around. I'm thrilled with the way it turned out."

When he's not attending legislative sessions in Montgomery, Denton continues to develop ongoing musical projects in a state-of-the-art studio at his Muscle Shoals home.

"Right now I'm working on another gospel album for 2002, which I think is going to be my best yet," Denton explained. "We've got some good songs, including a few that lean a little toward contemporary gospel. But they're all done in the traditional gospel style."

In addition to recording, Denton frequently performs for church socials, civic meetings, senior-citizens groups, conventions and reunions.

"My audience is made up mostly of people over 40 — people who grew up on the kind of songs I love to sing," Denton observed. "I do it for my own personal pleasure, but I love the fact that others enjoy the music, too. As long as they keep listening, I'll keep singing."

For copies of "Alabama Welcomes You," call Bobby Denton Music at 381-7449 or check the singer's Web site, www.bobbydenton.com.


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