“Huntsville has influenced the rest of the world, but most people don’t know about it.” Codie Gopher
Meet Codie Gopher, one of our speakers of the upcoming Huntsville Music Cities Convention.
Codie is an independent researcher of modern culture based in his hometown of Huntsville, Alabama. His many accolades include helping to curate the first Hip Hop Exhibit at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and his current work documenting Alabama’s music heritage through the 72 Experience documentary series. In this interview we tap into his role as an inescapable person of the local music scene and ask him for some insights on what makes Huntsville such a special musical place.
Make sure to catch him at the upcoming Huntsville Music Cities Convention. You can get your tickets to the event at an exclusive Early Bird price here.
Hi Codie, thanks for joining us for this interview. Tell us a bit about What makes Huntsville such a special place?
The geographical DNA of the area and its people. It’s like the two of them feed off each other. The location is surrounded by the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and the Tennessee River Valley. This majestic scenery seems to breed creativity. Also, I think the fact that Huntsville is a smart city is what makes the place special. You have people here who, for example, have careers in the Tech world but after work those same guys pick up a guitar or a paint brush. The duality in this city is impressive.
If I want to get into the local music scene, what are the main artists, venues, projects I should know about?
It’s too many to name to be honest, and that’s a great thing to sat. I will say every genre has talented individuals, who are very passionate about the music. The studio business is amazing here, from Five Points Studio to EQ Labs, the creative energy is alive. The venues range from establishments, such as The Dish, The Camp, city parks, the Ortion Amphitheater. The scene seems to be very intentional at the present moment. My favorite place to keep up with music is Huntsville Music Scene.
We know that you’re a great ambassador of Huntsville’s culture. In that sense, What’s the biggest musical influence that Huntsville has provided to the rest of the world?
The ability to be present at every level of the music arena. Locality, the music provides a unique experience. Globally, the music reaches across the world. Huntsville musicians are presently active on every level. We have new artists, such as Chelsea Who, Common Man Band, Hunnivega, The Neighbors, Translee, and SNACKS, who are creating their own DIY spaces in the city. We also have Grammy winners like Danae Vlassae (a University of Alabama Huntsville alumni), Kelvin Wooten, and Merv Warren, just to name a few. Education is key in this process. Our public and private schools have great programs. Colleges in the area include UAH, AAMU, Calhoun Community College and UNA, which are top notch. Also, can’t forget places like Valley Conservatory and Maitland Conservatory, who are leading the next generation of musicians.
We know that you worked at the Hip Hop Exhibit of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame? Tell us a bit about the curatorial process behind it.
The process was a four year journey, spearheaded by our team and the living legend Dick Cooper, with the last push coming from Mrs. Dixie Griffin. She was truly intentional on completing the project. We have a few pieces of memorabilia in there from the State of Alabama’s Hip Hop past. These include CDs, DVDs on which Alabama Hip Hop is featured (for example, appearances in magazines like SPIN, which Huntsville Hip Hop had a 8 page spread back in 2011). There are record company jackets, adorned with company logos, pictures and bios from artists across the state. We need more, but the digital era is changing the landscape of museums, and what artists utilise in their daily music lives. We are currently still working to expand the exhibit and look at new technology for future legends from the genre.
What's your main project right now?
A Docuseries, The Seven Two Experience. We’ve been working on it with Impresario Productions, Creative Vision Media and Meridian Media. The film was shot in what we call the Valley of Soul. The Docuseries is a documentary spanning Highway 72 (The Seven Two Experience), located here in the Tennessee Valley, also known as North Alabama. Takes a journey through the birthplaces of W.C. Handy, Bessie Smith, Jesse Owens, Cortez Gree, and more. Our team cannot wait to share this project with the world.
Finally, What’s the best thing about the Huntsville Music Ecosystem? What could the city do to improve it and become a better music city?
The best thing about the music ecosystem is it is daily news. It is getting solid attention across the board. To improve it, the city can’t give up even if political seats change. The people in high places can’t give up on the music culture of Huntsville. My most memorable memory was the music audit. For me personally, it brought me closer with people in my community, who might not have listened to the story of a hip hop guy. It also showed how much people care about music. Rather people agree with everything or not, the fact my city cares about music, means a lot.
Catch Godie Gopher at his TEDxTalk: The unexpected, but monumental influence of North Alabama