It’s no surprise that Memphis is full of talented musicians in the Black community. What you may not know is many of them happen to be tied to each other in one way or another. Whether they are close friends, met a few times at a local concert, or happen to be family, this is what makes our city so special! The type of talent that we often experience on television and during concerts often exist under one roof right here in Memphis! As we continue to highlight the many accolades of musicians during Black Music Month, here are a few Black families in the Memphis music scene that are constantly doing great things!
The Franklin Family
A “triple threat” is typically in reference to someone who is proficient in three skills within their specific field of interest. That said, triple threat has two meanings when it comes to the Franklin Family! The family consists of triplets who love all things music and continue to contribute to their community whenever they get the chance. Not only are they all singers, but they also produce tracks for artists, play bass, keys, drums, and maybe even a few other instruments we have yet to discover.
Jamaal Franklin is an award-winning guitarist whose credits include Tamala Mann, Lisa Knowles Smith, The Spiritual Soldiers, and more. While fluent in the art of guitar, he is also skilled when it comes to piano and production. He works with another musician in the city by the name of Craylon Davis to assist artists with their creativity and has worked with several upcoming artists in the city.
Furthermore, Sam Franklin is a multi-talented musician as well. His producer credits include artists like LaDorsia Jay, Angela L. Lackey, Terri J. and gospel artist Rachel Moody. His drum credits consist of Hollie Shannon, Debra Williams, The Spiritual Soldiers, and more.
Last, but not least, is Grammy-nominated musician Christopher Franklin. In 2021, he received his first Grammy nomination as a musician when gospel artist Jekalyn Carr was recognized for her hard work on what was to be nominated as Best Gospel Album. Over the years, he has served as an instructor and just recently made his first placement on a song as a producer. Kudos to the Franklin Family!
The Whalum Family
Reigning from Memphis, the Whalum family has been blessed with remarkable talent for generations. While two of their family members are able to say that they are head pastor of a church and author of many great books, four others can say that they have played behind many big name artists in the industry and dedicated much of their time to building the next generation of music.
Kirk Whalum, the uncle of singer and musicians Kortland Whalum, Kenneth Whalum, and Kameron Whalum, has been in the industry for many years as an elite saxophonist. You may recognize his talent in the instrumental portion of the hit song “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. Following in his footsteps is his nephew Kenneth Whalum, who has performed for artists such as Erykah Badu and Nas. Back in 2018, he accompanied Badu and her horn section in her NPR Tiny Desk concert and just recently took his talent to the Grammys. He has awards which represent his hard work in the industry alongside artists such as Mac Miller, Jay Z, and even Maxwell.
Likewise, his younger brothers Kameron and Kortland are also gracing big stages. While Kameron has toured the world for over 10 years performing with Bruno Mars and Silk Sonic, Kortland has been spending much of his time traveling to places like Milan to star in musicals. Last year, he even had the pleasure of being featured on shows on BET alongside actress Raven Goodwin. We are so proud of them and all that they have done.
The Mitchell Family
Over the years, the sibling duo of Oona and Boo Mitchell have made a lot of contributions to our city’s musical scene. They are continually succeeding in keeping the legacy of their father, Willie Mitchell, alive. While the both of them are currently serving as Memphis Grammy Chapter elects, they also have a lot of things going on individually. Oona Mitchell devotes much of her time to serving as the co-owner and manager of Royal Studios and hosting notable large-scale concerts and events . Likewise, Boo Mitchell is still working hard as the great musician and producer he was groomed from a young age to be. He recently worked with a group of talented horn players to develop Silk Sonic’s Billboard charting song, “Smoking Out the Window”. Their efforts to continue to build great music in Memphis and other areas never goes unnoticed, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for these two.
All of these families have exactly what it takes to influence the next generation of good, soulful music in Memphis. We hope they continue to do what they do best ,and we hope you all find joy in supporting them and Memphis music!