Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stax Music Academy Winter Concert with CANDI STATON December 5th!!

When the Stax Music Academy students take to the stage on Saturday, December 5, 2009 at Germantown Performing Arts Center in Memphis to salute some of the most popular female singers in American history, they will be joined by one of the most internationally renowned soul and gospel singers in the industry, Candi Staton.

The concert – “HEY SISTA, SOUL SISTA: A Salute to the Divas of Soul, Jazz, Pop, & R&B” – features all ensembles of the Stax Music Academy performing songs by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Diana Ross, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Kahn, and numerous others, including contemporary stars Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, and Jennifer Hudson. The show will also feature a special tribute to the late soul singer and Tony-nominated actress Phyllis Hyman.

Staton, perhaps known for her monster disco hit “Young Hearts Run Free,” began singing in gospel choirs in the 1950s followed by a career in soul music that earned her some 16 R&B hits and 2 Grammy nominations from Rick Hall’s legendary Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals. After decades of being one of the most sought-after gospel singers in the world, in 2000 she released her 11th album, Here’s a Blessing. Following the release of a well-received compilation of her Fame-era material (2004’s Candi Staton), Staton returned to secular music in the form of 2006’s His Hands.

The evening will also feature a tribute to former Bar-Kays trumpet player Ben Cauley and the first presentation of the Ben Cauley Honorary Scholarships to Stax Music Academy students. The scholarship was founded in September 2008 by the Stax Music Academy and attorney B.J. Wade of the Memphis-based law firm Glassman, Edwards, Wade & Wyatt, PC, and will distribute $100,000 to students of the academy and for young people to visit the Stax Museum over a five-year period.

The Stax Music Academy’s SNAP! After School Winter Concert at Germantown Performing Arts Center on Saturday, December 5, 2009 begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 each (reserved seating) and may be purchased at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, 926 E. McLemore Avenue, or by calling 901-946-2535.

Partners for the concert include ArtsMemphis, SunTrust Bank, Thomas & Betts, Knox Phillips, Amro Music, and Glassman, Edwards, Wade & Wyatt, PC.

Check out this very cool video of Candi singing "Young Hearts Run Free" back in the Disco Daze!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Oh, Yeah. There is STILL LIFE in Soul at the Stax Museum

William Bell with the Stax Music Academy band.

Eddie Floyd with the Stax Music Academy band.

Bettye Crutcher & Harvey Scales.

Last Friday night, November 6th, the Stax Museum had a shindig to beat all shindigs. It was the opening reception for our newest exhibit, "STILL LIFE IN SOUL: Contemporary Music Photography by Jacob Blickenstaff," but it was also a Stax Family Reunion and free party for Stax Museum members, and it was a blast!

It was also very powerful and moving in many ways. One of the reasons we chose to host this exhibit of Jacob's wonderful photographs is to emphasize the fact that soul music is alive and well and "authentic" soul music has gained an entire generation of new fans - throngs of young people disovering lifelong soul music artists and comeback artists at venues such as the Ponderosa Stomp, Brooklyn Soul Festival, Rabbit Factory Soul Revue, and through labels like Datpone Records that are cranking out "the real thing" again on vinyl. The photos are of artists who are still working all of the time, including Bettye LaVette, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, Tami Lynn, Teenie Hodges, Maxine Brown . . . the list goes on and on,

So for the party, in keeping with that theme, the musical entertainment was provided by a large group of Stax Music Acadey students playing for all of the soul music veterans in house to show them how we are keeping their legacy alive. It turned into an impromptu jam session that was priceless, wiht Eddie Floyd jumping in with the band on "Knock on Wood," Harvey Scales - decked out in a lime-green suit and gold shoes - on "Can't Turn You Loose," and William Bell - the classiest man in show business - on his hit "You Don't Miss Your Water." Hate to be cliche, but it really was magical.

The entire night was full of love and good times. Jacob's photographs were a huge hit, especially among his 20-or-so family members and friends who chartered a bus (!) and came down from his hometown of St. Louis. Also in the crowd were Stax legends Al Bell, James Alexander of the Bar-Kays, Curtis Johnson and Sam Jones of the Astors, J. Blackfoot of The Soul Children, William Brown of the Mad Lads, Jody Stephens of Big Star, Willie Hall, Bettye Crutcher, Teenie and Charles Hodges, and probably a lot of others with whom I didn't get a chance to speak.

So we got to bridge the gap between the generations a little bit and show that soul music is timeless and loved by people of all ages and all walks of life. It was awesome in every way.