AIR CEO Alan Freeman will continue as a consultant.

Malaco Music Group and Select-O-Hits have purchased Atlanta International Records (AIR Gospel) for an undisclosed price. One of the gospel music community’s best-known independents, the 25-year-old label’s roster includes Rev. F. C. Barnes, Timothy Wright, Luther Barnes and the Red Budd Community Choir, Maurette Clark Brown and Dottie Peoples, whose new release, “Live From Memphis, He Said It,” debuts at No. 50 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart in the coming issue.

AIR CEO Alan Freeman will continue to serve the label as a consultant, working from his Atlanta office while the remainder of the label operations will move to Malaco’s Jackson, Miss. headquarters. AIR was launched in 1980 by Freeman’s father, Ron, and will continue to be distributed by Select-O-Hits. (Malaco bought 50% of the Memphis-based distributor in 1996.)

“We look at companies that are established,” says Malaco Music Group president Tommy Couch, Sr., citing another key Malaco acquisition, Savoy Records, purchased in the mid 1980s. “AIR fulfilled our criteria. They are an old company with well known artists and great big hits in their catalog.”

AIR joins the Malaco Music Group stable of imprints that includes Malaco Records, Muscle Shoals Sound Gospel, 601 Records and Savoy.

Select-O-Hits VP Johnny Phillips says AIR is a perfect fit. “Acquiring something like AIR is like having another Malaco,” he says. “We can now go in with all the Malaco titles and Atlanta International titles and do so many more promotions with different companies. Dottie Peoples and Luther Barnes are top of the line gospel artists. Add that to what Malaco already has and it’s a match made in heaven.”

AIR is the latest acquisition for Select-O-Hits. The company recently purchased 50% of the Latino Jam label whose roster includes the Latino Jam Cartel and Capone. They also just closed a deal to acquire 50% of Sawed Off Records, a hispanic label based in Southern California whose roster includes Knightowl and Dyablo.