Show of the Week: STAX Celebration, Wattstax Revisited:
40 years in the Making

Forty years ago, Memphis’ own Stax Records organized the socially conscious concert WattStax, featuring Isaac Hayes, The Bar-Kays, and many others. The event was coordinated to bring attention to the riots that occurred in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles in 1965.

Although the Stax name dissolved into obscurity in the early 1980s, a new campaign to revamp the aging Memphis label has been making large strides. With the Stax Museum built and the label revived by 2003, the Memphis stronghold has shown that it’s still got its grooves. One of Stax’s modern efforts is the Stax Music Academy, an afterschool program giving Memphis’ youth insight into the music business. Celebrating the history the Stax name was built on, the Academy will be holding a 40th anniversary concert for WattStax at the Levitt Shell Pavilion, another hotspot of Memphis musical history (having hosted the likes of Elvis and Jonny Cash).

With WattStax being a perfect opportunity to drop knowledge and a little bit of history, the Academy aims to celebrate the event in hopes of imparting tips, tricks, and tools of the trade for their students to be successful in the music industry today.

Students from four branches of the academic classes (Stax, Volt, Gospel Truth, and Enterprise) will participate by performing songs or material in honor of the original WattStax concert. I got the chance to tour the academy with students Taylor Barksdale and Josiah Taylor. Seeing the facility and the high-schoolers busy at work practicing scales, recording vocals, or discussing marketing strategies was inspiring to say the least.

The visit closed with elated words from Barksdale on the Stax Academy.

“I’ve been going here for about a year now, and I can tell you, I truly love Stax with all my heart. I look forward to coming here every day. We get to meet legends, and we get a lot of great opportunities to show them that we are living on through their music.”

Come out to The Levitt Shell this Saturday, June 27th, at 7:30PM to see STAX Celebration, Wattstax Revisited: 40 years in the Making as performed by the students of the Stax Academy.



This entry was posted in TVD Memphis. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

  • Alternative Text
  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text