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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

DOOR OF HOPE OPENS MEMORIES AT STAX MUSEUM

Memphis author Ellen Prewitt called me one day in December with an idea. She volunteers here with an organization named Door of Hope, which is a daytime agency committed to forming friendships with and offering assistance to people living on the streets. Weekly, she shares her knowledge of and passion for writing by hosting writing workshops with Door of Hope guests.



When famed Memphis photographer Earnest Withers passed away last fall, Ellen had the guests write about him and his photographs. In the process, she learned that many of the guests had great memories of Stax Records and that many of them had lived in the neighborhood around Stax when it was in its heyday in the 1960s and '70s. So she wanted to bring them to see the Stax Museum. None of them had seen it yet.



She and staff member Roderick Baldwin brought several guests on a sunny day in December and we spent several hours touring the museum while the guests shared their memories of Stax Records. It was an incredible day for all of us. Not one to let a great opportunity slip by, Ellen shortly thereafter conducted her weekly writing workshop with those guests and had them write about their memories of Stax Records and their experience touring the museum.



Thanks so much to Ellen for doing this, and for all of her support and that of her husband Tom for the Stax Museum and Stax Music Academy. And here are the stories, in the writers' own words. We look forward to the guests visiting the museum again soon.



“My STAX Experience”
By Leroy “Jake” Scott

It was my first time back to STAX since it was re-opened again from the early days of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

We used to go to the back door and peep in on Isaac Hayes, David Porter, Bar-Kays, Otis Redding, the Dramatics, Temprees, Mad Lads, Rufus Thomas, Sam and Dave and many more great artists.

For some reason, my favorite artist was Isaac Hayes. He was such a dynamic individual. Bald head, long gold chains and a real deep voice with great lyrics.

I especially like the little movie they show at the start of the tour. It puts you in the mood of the original STAX movie house that was there before it turned into a recording studio.

I was knocked off my feet when I saw Isaac Hayes custom El Dorado trimmed in gold with the white mink carpet and the bar in the back, and the TV in the front. I remember when he used to drive it down the street, it was such a beautiful sight to see.

STAX
By Jockluss Thomas Payne

Taking a trip to STAX Museum filled me with a lot of nostalgia. During the heyday of STAX, I was about fifteen years old and I lived very close to STAX Records, about two blocks down the street. I was able to hang around the studio, run errands for the singers and musicians, and actually sit in on recording sessions.

What is most memorable about STAX Records is how it developed the talents of many aspiring performers who otherwise might not have become famous. STAX produced a distinctive, soulful, delta, gritty, form of rhythm and blues that became world famous and brought to Memphis a place on the world map as the home of soul. Plus the fact it was a bi-racial effort in a time of racial strife. STAX will always be remembered in that respect. It also must be remembered as a big business organization that propelled many of its performers to financial heights never before achieved in the blues delta circuits.

It would take a book to re-live all my experiences at STAX Records. But I will say that it gave a great deal of cultural, musical, and racial pride in that STAX was able to bring whites and blacks together and produce a world famous sound known as the “Memphis Sound,” my adopted home town.


“THE STAX EXPERIENCE”
By Roderick Baldwin

For a long time, I have always wanted to see and learn about the STAX history. Hearing about STAX through others made me very interested. I have heard a lot of the music, from Isaac Hayes, The Bar-Kays, Staple Singers, Memphis Horns, Sam and Dave. The music I was listening to was telling a story about life and its experience. The music touched my soul, it had sound all by itself. The emotion it brought out was a good feeling. The music told personal feelings and experience that I can experience. No color or stigmas was here; the joy that music can bring. How the STAX experience brought people together in music.

Going to STAX myself brought back the times of clothes, hair styles; a different style of music. Brought back child memory of peace and good will. All that different culture coming together, to share their life and love of music, and the messages it gives us.

The STAX experience is something we can build on to help people understand that through music we can change and bring people together.

Remembering Isaac Hayes from his sister and brother going to Manassas High – being across the street from Isaac Hayes’ grandmother. Seeing the Cadillac he drove when I was in my teens. In my life I have had the opportunity to meet Rufus Thomas and his children and Isaac Hayes – James Alexander and Larry Dodson of the Bar-Kays, some of the Mitchells - the pioneers of the STAX experience.

It was and still is an honor to have met and listen to their experience of the times we left behind – but through the STAX museum we can re-live the good times. And help touch and pass the hope and dreams of the pioneers of change and togetherness. Thank God for the STAX experience and the people who are still keeping it alive.

STAX
By Radio

I just want to say I enjoyed the ride there, and I enjoyed the people, the music, the sound. I will like to go again real soon. I just want to thank the people that invited us.

STAX
By William Lawrence Hogan, Jr.

On Fast Quick. I’m Your Boxer.

Janet Jackson needs to come to Memphis Tenn to born or help give us Letoya her sister report. Clock Period.

2 comments:

tryugotsoul said...

This is FABULOUS! I've enjoyed reading flash-backs of folks that remember Stax Records in all of its glory. Thank you Ms. Prewitt for initiating the project. You're an angel and I see God's hand at work through you.

dp

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