Dr. Dre's Beats Electronics will help renovate and revive the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and FAME Recording Studio. The deal is part of the company's new partnership with the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation.
The two Northern Alabama studios have hosted some of the greatest artists of all time – including Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, the Rolling Stones, Paul Simon and Etta James – and their legacies were recently in explored in the documentary Muscle Shoals. According to a statement, the goal of the project will be "to preserve the rich history and culture of the iconic Muscle Shoals Sound."
Along with returning Muscle Shoals Sound Studio to a functioning recording space, Beats Electronics will also back an educational program that will allow young musicians, engineers and producers to learn the ins-and-outs of recording at both Muscle Shoals Sound and FAME. Beats will donate a portion of its holiday sales to the cause, and applicants who best meet the program's criteria will have the opportunity to work with experienced studiohands for free.
"Magic is a word that's too often misused in the record industry," Beats cofounder and Interscope Geffen A&M Chairman Jimmy Iovine said in a statement. "Muscle Shoals is different; it's one of the rare places where it really exists. Any time you can capture such a distinct and authentic sound over and over again, that's something worth protecting."
Muscle Shoals Sound Studio was started in 1969 by a group of FAME session musicians, known as the Swampers, who'd developed a style of Southern soul that defied of the region's often tumultuous race relations during the era. Despite hosting everyone from the Stones to Bob Seger to Cher to Lynyrd Skynyrd, the studio relocated to a more modern space in the late 1970s. The studio's initial home at 3614 Jackson Highway does remain standing, but it's been abandoned and unused ever since.
"The Muscle Shoals Sound is a funky, soulful music mash-up of great players, songs and singers, and just as with Beats, we are all about the magic of music," said Rodney Hall, chairman of the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation. "We think that Beats is the perfect partner for this project and we want to thank the entire Beats staff for helping to keep our sound alive."