FLORENCE — The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved supporting an audit on the Shoals area's rich music heritage.

Florence join its sister cities of Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Tuscumbia in providing $2,500 toward the project by Sound Diplomacy and RCP Companies.

The council decision came on the recommendation of Mayor Steve Holt.

"It's not a study," Holt said. "It is an audit of strengths and weaknesses of what our assets are and how we go from here."

The study is expected to begin late in May and take approximately 10 months to complete, officials said.

RCP Companies is creating MidCity Huntsville, a major entertainment development at the site of the old Madison Square Mall. RCP representatives said they realize the importance of Shoals music past and present, and want to create a partnership between Huntsville and the Shoals.

Huntsville also wants to become part of the Americana Music Triangle and capitalize on tourists who visit cities in the triangle, which includes the Shoals.

Officials said the Shoals would benefit by increased tourism, especially from international tourists. It also would create additional opportunities for Shoals artists, as well as up and coming musical talent from Huntsville.

RCP Companies is offering to pay $35,000 of the $55,000 study and is asking the Shoals to pay the remaining $20,000. Shoals cities and other entities are chipping in to reach that amount.

Holt said he is not aware of a study ever being conducted that assesses the value of the area's rich music heritage. He added that he is excited about the notion of working with Huntsville.

The study would be conducted by Sound Diplomacy, a London, England, based company that helps create and deliver strategies that increase the value of music ecosystems.

The company has conducted music studies or audits all over the world.

During a time allotted for public comments, former Councilman Sam Pendleton told the council he is wary of the decision to take part in the audit.

Pendleton said he is concerned Huntsville would use this as a way to take possession of the Shoals' music history.

He said, Huntsville will be able to claim, "The Muscle Shoals Sound at Huntsville."

"We can't say, 'The Rocket City at Florence,'" Pendleton said.

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski



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