Bremen native Harold Shedd speaks at UWG

Photo Credit: Larry Bell
Photo Credit: Larry Bell

Harold Shedd worked at Mercury Records. Shedd produced music for country musicians including Alabama, Reba McEntire, Shania Twain and others.

Shedd is from Haralson County, which is approximately 27 minutes away from Carrollton. He lived on the farm for most of his life. He graduated from high school in Buchanan, Ga. Two weeks after graduating from high school, he left town to go on tour with a band. They traveled to Little Rock, Ark., for their first concert of the tour.

A few months after going on tour, Shedd’s father passed away. He returned to Buchanan after his father’s death and tried to resume a career in music. He played mostly clubs, like Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, the American Legion and square dances in Villa Rica, Ga. He joined the Army in 1951. After completing his service, he returned to Bremen in 1953.

Lee Williams was responsible for helping kick start Shedd’s career. Williams got a job at WTLS, a radio station in Tallassee, Ala. In 1956, Williams helped Shedd get a job working at the station. He worked in radio for 13 years. Shedd moved to Jackson, Miss. and started making jingles for radio and television commercials for a company that was based out of Memphis, Tenn. In 1972, he moved to Nashville, Tenn. and opened a recording studio.

In 1979, he became co-owner of Music Mill recording studios, based in Nashville, Tenn. He was contacted by Joe Gibson, who worked for a distribution company for an independent record label. Gibson invited Shedd to come listen to Alabama’s new record. The title of the song was “I Wanna Come Over,” which comes off of Alabama’s fourth album, My Home’s in Alabama. “I Wanna Come Over” was Alabama’s first Top 40 hit, and the song peaked at number 33 on the charts in December 1979.

Shedd traveled to Myrtle Beach, SC. to go see Alabama perform at a club called The Bowery. The band performed all original songs, and the audience loved their performance. Shedd worked with Alabama and helped produce some of the songs on My Home’s in Alabama. The majority of country bands at that time did not write and perform their own songs, so this set Alabama apart from other bands that were in the country genre. Shedd produced Alabama’s song, “Tennessee River.” “Tennessee River” was Alabama’s first song to go number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. After the release of “Tennessee River,” Alabama released 21 consecutive number one singles.

After working with Alabama, Shedd worked with Reba McEntire. They had two number one records together. He then worked with K.T. Oslin.

Oslin was a country singer from New York. He received Oslin’s demo tape at his office and listened to it. He thought that Oslin’s songs were really good. Shedd was in negotiations with CBS. CBS had an artist named Janie Fricke, and the label was trying to take Fricke’s music in a new direction. Shedd thought that it would be a good idea to get Oslin and Fricke to work together. At the time, Oslin was 48 years old and that was an age that was considered too old to be a country singer. Shedd agreed to publish Oslin’s songs. After working on five songs with Oslin, Shedd took the recordings to Joe Galante, head of RCA records. Galante and Shedd made a deal to release Oslin’s songs. Oslin went on to sell millions of records and had two albums that won Grammy’s.

Shedd went on to do five albums with the country star Mel Tillis. Two of the albums were very successful. He worked on two albums with Glen Campbell. Campbell introduced Shedd to Roger Miller and worked with Miller on eight tracks for an album, but was unable to complete the production before Miller passed away.

He continued his career by working at Mercury Records in 1988. He was the head of the A&R Department. The Kentucky Headhunters was the first band that Shedd was responsible for helping get signed to Mercury Records. The second artist that Shedd helped get signed was the great Cajun country singer Sammy Kershaw. Hailing from Flatwood, Ky., Billy Ray Cyrus was another artist that Shedd helped get signed to Mercury in 1990. Cyrus’s second studio album, It Won’t Be the Last, was a multi-platinum album.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *