Stax Museum Of American Soul Music Wins Arts Leadership Award, 2015 Governor’s Arts Award!


Started in 2003, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music has again brought soul music and the Memphis Sound to the forefront of American culture and restored the legacy of legendary recording studio Stax Records. During its remarkable 15 year run, the label scored more than 167 songs on the Top 100 pop charts and an astonishing 243 hits on the Top 100 R&B charts. Stax Records was the hit maker responsible for launching the careers of many iconic singers, including Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Sam & Dave, Albert King and the Staple Singers.

Today, the Stax Museum preserves and promotes the rich history and culture of Stax Records and American soul music. But even more so, the museum upholds the value of soul music for the past and present and uses music as a catalyst today to revitalize a neighborhood, improve education and transform lives. What started as a museum and foundation to now includes a thriving academic college preparatory school and music academy.

Established on the corner of McLemore Avenue and College Street in Memphis, Stax Records’ commitment to social good has always been a part of the message of Stax Records. A forward-thinking company in the midst of segregation, Stax Records was a culture changer—becoming one of the first establishments to integrate its workplace, invest in African American businesses and neighborhoods and expand into multimedia production. By the 1970s, following the boom and bust of the recording business and changing musical tastes, Stax was forced into involuntary bankruptcy, but its influence among newer generations of musical artists never waned.

It took until 2003 for a group of concerned Memphis citizens to reclaim the abandoned Stax Records lot and memorialize the space with the building of a museum on the original site. The project revived the Memphis tourism industry and brought global attention to American soul music. Time magazine named the Stax Museum “the most authentic American experience in Tennessee” in 2008 and National Geographic called Memphis one of the “Best of 2013” Top 20 Cities to Visit in the World, largely due to Stax.

Currently, the Soulsville Foundation provides monetary support and leadership for the Stax Museum and its affiliate organizations. The foundation launched Stax Music Academy in 2000 to provide area youth the opportunity to develop their music capabilities, gain performance opportunities and carry the torch of soul music to the next generation. In addition, the foundation started The Soulsville Charter School in 2005 to “prepare students for success in college and life in an academically rigorous, music-rich environment.” Both affiliates have successfully reached the South Memphis community and made measureable impacts. The public charter school currently serves 625 students in grades 6-12 and boasts a 100% college acceptance rate for all its graduating classes. 

Today, thanks to the Stax Museum, Soulsville youth are developing their academic and musical potential, a community is being revitalized and a legacy is being honored.  Visitors from around the world are being exposed to the gritty sounds of soul music, and gaining knowledge of the rich history and talent behind the songs. Without a doubt, Stax Museum has advanced the value of a Memphis-born music tradition to Tennessee and beyond.

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Memphis Grizzlies and Soulsville Foundation announce Staxtacular Presented by SunTrust

The Memphis Grizzlies and the Soulsville Foundation are bringing the worlds of basketball, music, and mentoring together for the Soulsville Foundation’s largest annual fundraiser, Staxtacular 2015 Presented by SunTrust.

  • What: Staxtacular Presented by SunTrust
  • When: Saturday, February 7, 2015 – 7 pm until midnight
  • Where: Stax Museum of American Soul Music, 926 E. McLemore Avenue

Hosted by Memphis Grizzles’ Tony Allen, Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and other representatives from the team, the eleventh annual Staxtacular Presented by SunTrust will feature international cuisine stations, open bars and custom cocktails, live and silent auctions, and live music by the Stax Music Academy and the Bo-Keys with special guest Stax legend William Bell.

After being inspired by the Stax Records legacy and encouraged by the Soulsville Foundation’s work with at-risk young people, former Grizzlies players Shane Battier and Brian Cardinal and their wives offered to host a fundraiser in 2005, which became Staxtacular. Since then, new Grizzlies players have taken on the host roles and Staxtacular has become one of the most popular fundraising events of the year in Memphis. It has raised more than $900,000 to date. The Grizzlies and Soulsville Foundation expect Staxtacular 2015 to increase that to over $1 million.

Staxtacular 2015 will feature the opportunity to bid on NBA memorabilia, travel packages, original artwork, music-related packages, and more during and live, silent, and online auctions.

Tickets to Staxtacular are $150 each and may be purchased by calling 901-261-6338 or online at

The Soulsville Foundation is a Memphis, Tennessee-based nonprofit organization that operates the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Stax Music Academy, and The Soulsville Charter School. In addition to operating the world’s only soul music museum, its mission is to provide leadership and financial support that promotes and utilizes the music and heritage of Soulsville USA to develop young people for lifelong success. For more information, please log onto

Definitive Collection Of Stax Records’ Singles To Be Reissued

Two volumes, due out December 16, 2014 and February 3, 2015, cover 1968-1975.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Concord Music Group and Stax Records are proud to announce the reissue of two comprehensive box set titles: The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Vol. 2: 1968-1971 and The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Vol. 3: 1972-1975. Originally released in 1993 and 1994, respectively, these two compilations will be re-released back into the physical market in compact and sleek new packaging. Each set includes full-color booklets with in-depth essays by Stax historian and compilations co-producer Rob Bowman. The volumes feature stalwart Stax R&B artists including Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Carla Thomas, the Bar-Kays and William Bell, as well as bluesmen Little Milton, Albert King and Little Sonny, and “second generation” Stax hitmakers like Jean Knight, the Soul Children, Kim Weston, the Temprees, and Mel & Tim.

The story of the great Memphis soul label Stax/Volt can be divided into two distinct eras: the period from 1959 through the beginning of 1968, when the company was distributed by Atlantic and was developing its influential sound and image (chronicled in acclaimed 9-CD box set The Complete Stax/Volt Singles 1959-1968, released by Atlantic in 1991); and the post-Atlantic years, from May 1968 through the end of 1975, when Stax/Volt began its transition from a small, down-home enterprise to a corporate soul powerhouse.

In Stax’s early years as an independent label, founders Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton struggled with the loss of its back catalog to Atlantic/Warner Brothers Records and the loss of the label’s most lucrative artist, Otis Redding, who tragically died in a plane crash months before. In need of funding and new stars, Axton and Stewart sold the label to Gulf + Western, bringing on promotion head Al Bell (who would soon become an equal partner and major figurehead of the label). In his Vol. 2 essay, Rob Bowman recalls, “As the sun arose in Memphis on May 6, 1968 [the day Stax officially became independent of Atlantic], Stax had been essentially gutted. For all intents and purposes it was a new record company poised to issue its first few records.”

Comprised of nine CDs, Vol. 2 focuses on this period, 1968 through 1971, when Stax/Volt was forging ahead as its own entity. The 216-song collection includes all of the singles issued by the label during this time period, and features some of the biggest and best-loved hits of the day, including Isaac Hayes’ “Theme From Shaft,” The Staple Singers’ “Respect Yourself” and Johnnie Taylor’s “Who’s Making Love,” as well as a number of little-known gems by both major and less-familiar artists.

By the end of 1971, Bowman notes, “Al Bell’s dream of [Stax/Volt] becoming a diversified full-line record company was several steps further along the line to being reality. The label now recorded a wealth of different styles and flavors of black popular music, ranging from the jazz and easy-listening proclivities of Isaac Hayes to the blues of Little Milton to the ’70s disco-infused vocal style of the Dramatics to the gutsy soul of the Staple Singers.” Indeed, the early 1970s found Stax/Volt a much bigger entity than ever thought possible during its initial split from Atlantic, with Isaac Hayes as its breakout star. Spurred by the success of Hayes’ GRAMMY Award-Winning Shaft soundtrack in early 1972, the label was casting its net across a wide cross section of the entertainment industry, entering into new territory with soundtracks, comedy records, and even investing in a Broadway play. The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Vol. 3: 1972-1975, out February 3, 2015, covers this era of success and excess, when Stax’s stars were shining bright, but the label was on the verge of its dramatic denouement. The 10-disc box set contains all 213 soul singles issued by Stax/Volt during this time, including such hits as Shirley Brown’s “Woman to Woman” and the Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There.”

In 1976, faced with involuntary bankruptcy and an unsuccessful distribution deal with CBS Records, Stax was forced to close its doors. In his liner notes for Vol. 3, compilation co-producer Bill Belmont writes, “Stax’s difficult and inglorious end in no way diminishes its vital contributions to rhythm and blues and soul. Today, the music of Stax maintains a strong and steady presence, heard continually in cover versions by major artists, in movies and on television. Simply put, the Memphis Sound lives.” And indeed it does.

With a revival of the label in recent years, through Fantasy Records, the 2003 opening of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis, Tenn., as well as several developing theatrical performances around the label, the music of Stax will continue to influence generations of musicians and fans alike.