Friday, June 26, 2009


In the last entry where it reads in the first sentence, "artists who did record at Stax Records," that should have been "artists who did NOT record at Stax Records." Sorry for the error!


Here at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, we have a wall of video screens where many, many artists who did record at Stax are represented with video footage and information. They include Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Labelle, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Parliament, Billy Preston, The Spinners, and lots of others.

There's also a great video of a very young man in flowered pants and a fringe vest singing lead with his brothers behind him, all in front of a massive crowd of screaming fans. The young man is, of course, Michael Jackson.

With the soul music world losing such icons in recent years as Ray Charles, the aforementioned Billy Preston, and our own beloved Isaac Hayes, it's a particularly piognant day for us as we look consider the life, career, accomplishments, and the extraordinary philanthropic contributions of Michael Jackson, one of the world's greatest entertainers for many decades.

Just like Isaac Hayes, Michael Jackson always did things his own way. He always broke new ground. He never fit into any particular category because he was unique. He respected those who had come before him and he helped pave the way for many others. He is one of the few artists living today whose music will stand the test of time, and in fact, already has become a part of the international psyche.

Tomorrow night, the Stax Music Academy is performing a special tribute concert to Motown as its Summer Grand Finale in conjunction with that label's 50th anniversary. Three Michael Jackson/Jackson Five songs were already in the show. Now when our students perform them, they will be a special tribute and will have new meaning for all of us.

Monday, June 8, 2009


"At the Corner of Soulsville & Hitsville: Stax Salutes Motown!"

Saturday, June 27, 2009 - 7 p.m.

Buckman Performing Arts Center

$10 Advance, $12 at the Door

Special Guest Terron Brooks from Broadway's The Lion King and HBO's The Temptations!
Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door if available. Get your tickets now at the Stax Museum gift shop or by calling 901-946-2535. Does not apply to special Father's Day special.


The Stax Music Academy’s SNAP! Summer Music Camp is taking a turn this year, focusing more attention on each student and offering a wide variety of music experience with a seasoned staff and hand-picked guest instructors comprised of music business veterans from throughout Memphis and Shelby County.

The camp, which operates Monday – Friday, June 1 – 26, 2009, is designed for some 30 high school students who will benefit not only from the expertise of music instructors, but also from those with longstanding careers in writing, composing, conducting, music business, music theory, production, image consulting, and radio.

The Stax Music Academy is a program of the Soulsville Foundation, which also operates the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and The Soulsville Charter School, all at the original site of Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee.

While the Stax Music Academy’s mission is mentoring primarily at-risk young people through music education and unique performance opportunities, this year’s camp, according to Soulsville Foundation spokesman Tim Sampson, takes that mission to new heights by offering these valuable, behind-the-scenes life lessons so that the students gain a broader sense and detailed knowledge about the music industry above and beyond playing, singing, and performing.

In response to the global economic crisis that has hit nonprofit organizations so hard, the Stax Music Academy put a great deal of thought and effort into making this year’s summer camp as productive and efficient as possible, while still maintaining a high level of quality, by embracing the incredible talent right here in Memphis with instructors who are able to spend more focused time with a smaller group of students.

Rather than one-off workshops and/or day-long sessions, many of these music industry professionals are actually on staff for the full four-week camp. The students will gain more than ever before in terms of building relationships with these professionals, relationships that will help prepare them for college and adulthood, no matter what they major in at college or what profession they choose in the long run.

In addition to the academy’s full-time Manager of Operations and Program Development Jackie Peters, Artistic Director and Lead Music Director Ashley Keith Davis, Music Director Paul McKinney, and Program Assistant Leona Johnson, the summer camp staff includes:

Velma Cato – an award-winning producer and journalist who has worked in nationally syndicated television, radio, film, and other aspects of the entertainment industry;

Veronica Chisem – CEO and Chairman of Kindred Souls Entertainment Group, Inc. who has manages such acts as The Manhattans, The Temprees, J. Blackfoot, and Larry Dodson of the Bar-Kays, and who brings a special music finance expertise to the camp;

Diane Louie – a classically trained composer, conductor, and songwriter who has worked with the likes of Roberta Flack, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and others, and who has served as head arranger for specials such as American Idol, Grammys, and the NAACP Image Awards;

John Payne – music business teacher through the nonprofit Persuaders, Inc., owns JDP Records, which has signed Michael and Regina Winans; and is a local radio and television host;

Ken Steorts – Founder and President of VISIBLE SCHOOL – Music and Workshop Arts College in Memphis, Tennessee, and founding guitarist of the Grammy-nominated band Skillet;

Kelley Muller Smith – singer, actress, and a member of The Memphis Symphony Chorus, where she also serves on the Board of Directors;

Ralph Sutton – longtime national and international music producer who for three decades has worked with a who’s who in the music industry, including Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, and a number of others, in addition to scoring film soundtracks for such movies as The Big Chill, John Q, and many others;

Marlon Wilson – radio disc jockey, special events DJ, and CD mixer for a wide variety of artists, events, and awards ceremonies. \

Gary Goin – Memphis-based writer, producer, guitarist, and protégé of Stax Records’ David Porter;

Malvin Massey – Radio producer and personality and station manager for the University of Memphis’ WUMR Jazz Station.