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Grammy Song Inspired by Alabama Stone Wall

Tom's Wall in Florence AL.jpg

By Patricia Harris, Globe Correspondent

I'm thrilled that Rosanne Cash won three Grammys last night -- one for Best Americana Album (The River & The Thread) and one each for Best Roots Performance and Song for “A Feather Is Not A Bird” from the album.

Cash drew inspiration for the song when she visited “Tom's Wall,” a remarkable labor of love outside Florence, Alabama, just off the Natchez Trace Parkway. Now in his 80s, Tom Hendrix (above) has spent the last 35 years single-handedly creating the largest unmortared rock wall in the United States. It's a memorial to his great-great-grandmother Te-lah-nay, a member of the Yuchi tribe who traveled alone and on foot for five years to return to her roots near the Tennessee River after her tribe was forcibly relocated to Oklahoma.

Snaking more than a mile through Hendrix's property, the Wall is constructed of more than 8.5 million pounds of stone. “I've worn out three trucks, 22 wheelbarrows, 2,500 pairs of gloves, three dogs, and one old man,” says Hendrix. And inspired one artist.

Photo by Patricia Harris for the Boston Globe

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