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    Aldridge, Ava (21 February 1946 – 12 August 2003)

    Prolific singer-songwriter from Arizona who relocated to Sheffield, Alabama, and became a part of the Muscle Shoals music scene. 


    In 1975, she released a solo album, Frustrated Housewife, which was produced by George Soule, with whom Ava regularly collaborated.  The title tune was included on the soundtrack of the Peter Fonda film, Fighting Mad.  In America’s bicentennial year, Ava co-penned “Sharing the Night Together” with Eddie Struzick and it was recorded by Arthur Alexander.  Ava contributed a pair of songs to Narvel Felts’ 1976 album, Narvel the Marvel:  “Baby Warm”, co-written with George Soule; and, “Somebody Hold Me”, co-written with Sue Richards.  The latter was a top-ten hit. 


    She sang backing vocals on Mike Finnegan’s eponymous 1976 effort, and did the same on Billy Swan’s self-titled 1977 LP.  In 1978, Dr. Hook covered “Sharing the Night Together” and took it to #6 on the Billboard pop chart.  Ava spent much of that year recording tracks with Wilson Pickett which eventually wound up on the Big Tree album, Funky Situation.  She also penned and released the duet, “I Hate the Way I Love It”, with George Soule.  Charly McClain and Johnny Rodriguez took it to #16 on the Billboard country chart a year later. 


    In 1980, Ava was a member of The Shoals Sisters, which included Marie Tomlinson Clark and Cindy Richardson, and they backed Patti Austin on tracks for Body Language.  A couple of these, a remake of Squeeze’s “Another Nail for My Heart”, and “Soar Me Like an Eagle Flies”, made the cut on The Best of Patti Austin.  In 1981, Ava contributed backing vocals to Billy Burnette’s Gimme You, Lou Ann Barton’s Old Enough, Levon Helm’s self-titled album, and Lenny LeBlanc’s Breakthrough.  She reunited with Lenny on 1983’s Say a Prayer and Gus Hardin took her “Loving You Hurts” to #32. 


    In 1984, she sang background vocals on Will McFarlane’s A Colony of Heaven, Steve Bassett’s eponymous album, and Sandra Kaye’s “Hard Drinkin’ Good Timin’ Woman”.  She did the same on Clarence Carter’s Dr. C.C. and Larry Howard’s Sanctified Blues, both released in 1986.  In 1987, she contributed vocals to the Twila Paris album, Same Girl.  The turn of the decade found Ava in writing mode:  Her and Cindy Walker’s “He’s Helping Me Get Over You” was included on Robin Lee’s Black Velvet; “Somebody Hold Me (Until She Passes By)”, co-written with Ray Aldridge and Sue Richards, made the cut on Neil McCoy’s At This Moment; and, she and Lenny LeBlanc co-penned “Treat Her Right”, which would later become a hit for Sawyer Brown. 


    In her copious free time, she appeared on Hank Williams, Jr.’s 1990 release, Lone Wolf.  She also contributed vocals to 1992’s, Have You Met Clarence Carter… Yet?.  In 1993, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame bestowed upon her their Music Creator’s Award.  She also appeared on Jim Dickinson’s “Jewel of My Heart”, The Best of Steve Forbert:  What Kinda Guy?, Ronnie Milsap’s True Believer, and The Best of Crystal Gayle. 


    In 1994, she was part of Greg Allman & The Alabama Allstar Soul Revue and sang backing vocals on Dan Penn’s Do Right Man.  She performed similar duties on Keri Leigh’s Arrival, which arrive in stores in 1995.  In 1996, she appeared on Clarence Carter’s Carter’s Corner and Billy Ray Cyrus’s Trail of Tears.  She rejoined Gregg Allman on Searching for Simplicity, co-produced Bobby Denton’s My God and I, and helped launch DreamStar Music in 1997.  In 1999, she collaborated with Mary Chapin Carpenter on Party Doll and other Favorites, Clarence Carter’s Bring it to Me, and Lenny LeBlanc’s Above All. 


    She opened the new millennium at the W.C. Handy Music Festival.  In 2001, he sang backing vocals on Paul Baloche’s Open the Eyes of My Heart, Kate Campbell’s Wandering Strange, and Joe Stampley’s Somewhere under the Rainbow.  She also made the cut on No Stranger to the Dark:  The Best of Gregg Allman and Steve Forbert’s More Young, Guitar Days, released in 2002.  In 2003, tracks on which she had performed appeared on The Essential Mary Chapin Carpenter and Sandra Kaye’s Can’t Let That Bother Me. 


    On 12th August 2003, Ava succumbed to cancer in her adopted home town of Sheffield, Alabama.  She was buried at Colbert Memorial Gardens in Muscle Shoals, Colbert County, Alabama.  In the later years of her life she was active conducting a workshop at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and was busy in her home recording studio.  She was also Secretary of the Board of Directors for Muscle Shoals Music Association and Alabama Music Hall of Fame. 


    Ava was a beloved and influential songwriter whose songs traversed genres, from country, to gospel, to pop, to R&B, and was one of the architects of the famed Muscle Shoals sound. 


    George Soule and Ava Aldridge recordings

    I Hate the Way I Love It (Ava Aldridge)



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