The Pickers started out in 1999 as the cast of Birmingham’s first production of the
Off-Broadway musical, Smoke On The Mountain. Even though most of the cast members had performed together in other local shows, Smoke was their first gathering as an ensemble performing group. Playing a traveling gospel singing family, the Sanders Family, the ensemble began to build a following among local theater goers.
One of the really unique features of Smoke On The Mountain is the fact that the cast members are not only the actors but also the band. After the success of Smoke, the group, which at that point had no name, started rehearsing the sequel, Sanders Family Christmas. Both of these shows were performed several times at different theaters around the Birmingham area. After their second show, the group still had no name and was most often referred to by fans as the “Sanders Family”.