Photo by David McClister
Southern Avenue; the first Memphis band signed to the new Stax Records/Concord Music Group label
The Stax Music Academy exists to change the lives of Memphis' youth through music.
Since its inception in June 2000, when it hosted classes for 125 students at Stafford Elementary School, the academy has moved into its own space and served more than 4,000 students.
SMA students study vocals, instrumentals, music writing, music theory, production, and many other aspects of creating music. Students have had opportunities to perform with and for major recording artists, including B. B. King, Booker T. Jones of Booker T. & the MGs, and Ben Cauley, founding member of the Bar-Kays.
Staxtacular, hosted by the Soulsville Foundation and the Memphis Grizzlies, is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Stax Music Academy. This year's event will be held Saturday, February 11th.
This year, the event will feature special talent from Memphis. In addition to entertainment from the Stax Music Academy and Stax Music Academy Alumni Band, local artists Southern Avenue will perform. The group is the first Memphis band signed to the new Stax Records/Concord Music Group label. And Southern Avenue keyboardist, Jeremy “Mr. 88” Powell, is now the first former Stax Music Academy student signed to the label.
Powell grew up in the heart of South Memphis, two blocks from Stax. He was raised on gospel music in church, where his love for music was inspired at a young age. His first musical love was the Hammond B3, a staple of the church he grew up in. At 10 years old, he received his first keyboard and played it every day after school.
He also played drums in church and picked up a trumpet in middle school. His love for creating music led him to attend the Stax Music Academy from 2002 to 2004.
From the Staxtacular press release:
"Stax taught me discipline,” Powell says. “I started playing trumpet just one year before joining the Stax Music Academy. That after-school program helped me to develop my passion and ear for music. While learning theory and different compositions on the trumpet at Stax, I taught myself to do the same on the keyboard at home."
All proceeds from Staxtacular 2017 benefit the Stax Music Academy, which inspires young people and enhances their academic, cognitive, performance, and leadership skills by utilizing music with an intense focus on the rich legacy and tradition of Stax Records. Approximately 80 percent of SMA students attend via scholarships provided by the Soulsville Foundation through fundraising efforts such as Staxtacular.
Now in its 13th year, the event has raised more than $1 million to help provide financial-need based scholarships for underserved, primarily at-risk students to attend the school.
This year’s event takes place Saturday, February 11, 7 p.m. on the Soulsville Foundation campus, which includes the AutoZone Get in the Zone Gymnasium, Stax Music Academy, and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Tickets are $175 per person. For details, please visit staxtacular.com. For more information about Southern Avenue, visit southernavenueband.com.