George Wallace Jr. is known for his family’s political history in Alabama. His parents – George C. and Lurleen Wallace – both served as Alabama governors. George Wallace Jr. even served as state treasurer and on the state’s Public Service Commission.
He’s not really known for his singing.
But he did sing in the 1970s. As a matter of fact, he was signed by MGM Records in Los Angeles as a writer and recording artist and traveled on two tours with Hank Williams Jr. as Williams’ opening act. His love of music, however, took a backseat to his political career. Although, he never really gave it up.
And when Wallace, now 61, takes to a stage at this year’s Tri-State BBQ Festival, he’ll be singing again.
“It’s been so long since I’ve done something like this that it’s really exciting for me,” Wallace said. “Over the years, I’ve performed for various groups but to put on a show for an hour and a half or so will be unique for me.”
The Tri-State BBQ Festival will be held April 12 and 13 at the Houston County Farm Center in Dothan. The festival is sanctioned by the Florida Barbecue Association and will feature about 60 teams from around the Southeast competing for $11,000 in prize money. Along with the barbecue competition, the event will include a BBQ Bash on Friday evening and a people’s choice tasting on Saturday. The festival will also feature children’s activities, live music and a car show.
This year’s event features two new competitive categories – a barbecue sauce competition and a kid’s cook competition. Entries in the sauce competition must feature Southern Rye Whiskey produced by the Thirteenth Colony Distilleries from Americus, Ga. The required whiskey will be provided to competitors on Friday with the sauce competition on Saturday. Up to 50 entrants will compete for $500, and the winning recipe will become the property of Thirteenth Colony Distilleries. Contestants do not have to enter the grilling competition to submit a sauce.
The kid’s cook event will be open to students ages 8 to 18, who will grill hamburgers on Saturday morning and compete for $300 in prize money.
Wallace will perform Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m. during “An Evening with George Wallace Jr. – Songs and Stories.” Wallace’s music will be interlaced with stories of his family and photos from his book, “Governor George Wallace: The Man You Never Knew by the Man Who Knew Him Best.” The book, available only at www.georgewallacejr.com, was released a year ago.
Wallace said older people aren’t as surprised about his musical career as younger people he encounters. His most notable recordings included the songs “Missing You” and “Why Don’t They Understand.”
“I think I need to write a new song for the show – how ‘bout a hand for the hog,” Wallace joked.
His musical style is country-folk, although he enjoys the blues and plans to perform some blues music during the festival. Wallace said his love of music came from his mother, and he has no regrets about focusing on his life in public service over a life in music.
“I think I always knew my love was greater than my ability,” he said of his music. “But it was an honor to serve the people … To now bring back the music after all these years is like the way I’d like to finish my life, really.”