On the Soulsville campus at the original site of Stax Records, the Soulsville Foundation operates the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Stax Music Academy, and The Soulsville Charter School. Like you, 2020 has forced us to face many challenges. We have been blessed to find hope and inspiration through every challenge and wanted to take this opportunity to share it all with you.
We have learned many lessons about finding the good in a bad situation. Like you, the task of helping our community in need and taking care of one another in ways we never anticipated has sustained us. Through it all, Soulsville Foundation remains steadfast in our mission of perpetuating the soul of Stax Records by preserving its rich cultural legacy, inspiring future artists to achieve their dreams, and educating youth to be prepared for life success.
We closed the Stax Museum in March 2020, and since reopening with enhanced safety precautions, visitation remains very low. Celebrating its 20th Anniversary, the Stax Music Academy had to cancel a year’s worth of special events, concerts, and fundraisers. And The Soulsville Charter School, a public, tuition-free Shelby County School, closed and shifted to virtual learning.
We found joy and opportunity as we banded together in the trenches each step of the way. The Stax Museum opened its once top-secret digital archives virtually and free to the world. The Stax Music Academy launched a virtual songwriting contest to help youth from across the region process their feelings using their art. The Soulsville Charter School broadcasted a unique graduation ceremony on television to celebrate the graduating class of 2020. Supporters like you made joys like this possible. We need your help to continue being the beacon of Soul and Memphis Sound we have been for over 20 years and will continue for many years to come.
And now, our community needs your help.
Many of our funders have had to cut back during the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in working to ensure the legacy of Soul is accessible to all. We rely on our friends, our neighbors, and our community of donors like you to invest in the vital work we do. If you can, we ask that you please consider making a year-end donation to the Soulsville Foundation.
Your support helps our community to heal and provides for the next generation of Soul.
The Soulsville Foundation Family
P.S. This year, we have exciting news! Our students have created a Music Video E-Greeting Card for you to send to your loved ones. Make a donation of $25 or more, and we will send an E-Greeting Card to one recipient of your choosing. Make a gift of $500 or more, and you can send this incredible gift to an unlimited number of people. Support the Soulsville Foundation, and send your friends and family the hug you wish you could give in person.
Visit https://soulsvillefoundation.networkforgood.com/projects/84871-give-the-gift-of-soul to view a sample E-Card.
Here’s how we keep the Soul alive:
Stax Museum of American Soul Music:
- In collaboration with the Memphis Slim House and Mid-South Food Bank, the Stax Museum has served as a location for multiple drive-up food distribution events for musicians and Soulsville USA residents since March.
- When COVID-19 forced us to close, the Stax Museum launched “DEEP CUTS: Rare Items from the Stax Archives,” a new website allowing viewers to explore at no charge the Stax Museum’s vast collection of digital archives including concert posters, LP cover art, books, Stax newsletters, vintage advertisements, and more from Stax Records. The museum reopened in June with COVID-19 safety precautions in place, including making masks mandatory for all employees and guests, hand sanitizer stations throughout the museum, multiple cleanings daily, social distancing measures and signage, cashless transactions, and limits to group tours.
- Upon reopening, the Stax Museum launched the temporary exhibit “Beautiful Souls: Joel Brodsky and the Faces of Stax Records,” a photo exhibit featuring famous Stax LP art and outtakes of artists including Isaac Hayes, Mavis Staples, Booker T. & the MGs, Margie Joseph, David Porter, and others.
- In October 2020, the Stax Museum received $30,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s South Arts Resilience Fund supporting new, region-specific activities to build the long-term resiliency of arts organizations arts organizations with a history of visionary leadership and impact battling the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- In collaboration with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Stax Museum co-hosted a virtual concert, “Kennedy Center Live from Studio A at the Stax Museum,” featuring Memphis-based soul artist Talibah Safiya and 926, the Stax Music Academy Alumni Band.
- Other virtual events included “Humanite,” a concert with GRAMMY©-winner Kirk Whalum & Friends streamed live from the Stax Museum via Facebook and YouTube, and an October Zoom Book Talk event with authors Robert Gordon and David Less, moderated by Pat Mitchell Worley.
- In October 2020, readers of The Memphis Flyer nominated the Stax Museum as Best Museum in Memphis in the paper’s annual Best of Memphis contest and voted it in the top three alongside the National Civil Rights Museum and the Pink Palace.
Stax Music Academy:
- In May 2020, 67 percent of seniors graduated with music scholarships to college.
- Upon closing its physical facility in March due to COVID-19 safety measures, the Stax Music Academy (SMA) successfully shifted from in-person music education and creative youth development to virtual learning with online lessons, rehearsals, auditions, college preparedness workshops, student-driven Zoom events, and youth development sessions and other mental health support.
- SMA raised in excess of $50,000 with our #MusicMustContinue campaign to assist families negatively affected by COVID-19 by offsetting the tuition gap. The funds also are supporting programming for all local youth without music education due to COVID-19.
- SMA launched fundraisers in collaboration with Soundwaves Art Foundation with support from music icons Elvis Costello, Huey Lewis, Kesha, Iggy Pop, and Booker T. Jones of Booker T. & the MGs.
- We garnered national press with Variety magazine’s article “As Stax Music Academy Turns 20, Memphis School Reimagines Curriculum for COVID.”
- SMA launched monthly online songwriting contests for students with judges that included “Old Town Road” writer Jozzy Donald, Maroon 5’s P.J. Morton, ASCAP award-winner and SMA alumna KIRBY.