Trim your tree to this unique mix of Christmas music by Memphians
Art and culture are two of the important pillars that make up the city of Memphis, and the city is always looking for ways to share its heritage with the community. So, if you’re looking for ways to get out and explore Memphis culture, these are just a handful of examples of the […]
The summer concert series “Soulin’ on the River” continues at The Grove on Mud Island River Park here in Memphis with the Lucky 7 Brass Brand. It’s a chance to get out of the house, enjoy the fantastic summertime weather and kick back while you take in the unique […]
No discussion about American music can be complete without a discussion about Memphis. Memphis is, hands-down, home to much of what we know as modern American music. Soul, gospel, rhythm and blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and other genres of music all have their roots in the city. […]
Sometimes the best way to shake off the stress of the average workweek is to go up on stage and sing along to your favorite songs. Karaoke night is unlike any other night. Whether you come with friends or on your own, you can enjoy having a drink and singing the night away. It doesn’t […]
There’s no denying it — music defines Memphis. Roam the internet for stories about the nation’s top music cities, and Memphis always seems to make the list. That’s because we’re known as the home of blues, soul, rockabilly and rock ’n’ roll. And don’t ignore the fact that Memphis […]
There’s no doubt that Memphis is steeped in music history. After all, it’s the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll and the home of the blues. There’s been live music played on Beale Street since the 1860s, and if you stroll down the famous street today, you’ll see the […]
Memphis is a great place to call home no matter what, but for aspiring musicians, it’s particularly special. Memphis has become a mecca for musicians for many reasons. We have our share of musical landmarks, as famous artists like Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Otis Redding and more have […]
It’s no secret that Memphis has a history of amazing musicians. But did you know the impact Memphian music has on popular music? GRAMMY Award-winning engineer Boo Mitchell talks about his father Willie Mitchell’s continued influence on artists like the Talking Heads, Tina […]
Amy LaVere is a popular musician who now hails from Memphis, Tennessee, and is signed through Archer Records out of Memphis. The singer-songwriter is unique in that she plays an upright bass as the lead performer (although she plays a number of instruments during live performances).
Memphis native Brandon Lewis found his passion for music at a young age. Starting as a freelance songwriter, he dove hard into his music career. Dynamic, driven, and soulful, his music connects with the listener on an emotional level. Indie music may not be what Memphis is known for, but […]
At the festival, she was performing for a tent of people who didn’t know who she was, and she was just zeroing in on people speaking directly to them. She was witty, she was bawdy, she was frank. – Jewly Hight (NPR)Talibah Safiya is a shape-shifting independent soul artist from […]
As the Smithsonian Institution said, "In the quest to identify the roots of rock 'n' roll, all roads lead to Memphis." From B.B. King to Elvis Presley, Memphis has an extraordinarily rich cultural legacy. It remains one of the strongest musical influences in the country today and is an incredible destination for any music lover.
Much of America's musical history was born in Memphis: blues, jazz, R&B and eventually rock 'n' roll. These musical traditions influenced each other heavily and developed significant crossover, which is part of what gave Memphis music its unique sound. Throughout the development of Memphis' musical scene, Memphis' music remained a little rougher and soulful than the more polished, streamlined productions of Chicago and New York. This allowed musicians more artistic and emotional freedom when composing and performing.
Above all else, Memphis is often known as "Home of the Blues," laying claim to one of the most successful blues songs of its time: "St Louis Blues." From the 1910s to the 1930s, a distinct, Memphis sound was developed, with a crossover into country blues that later developed. Popular performers included Frank Stokes (believed to be the originator of the Memphis Blues Guitar Style) and Memphis Minnie (a blues vocalist who recorded over 200 songs). Blues has remained popular in Memphis for over a century and has gone through many influential iterations over that time.
During the same period, jazz also had a strong influence in Memphis, with jazz orchestra becoming popular in the 1920s and continuing to interact with the strong blues culture. Blues and jazz would eventually bleed into R&B and lead to the development of funk and soul.
Blues continued to evolve throughout Memphis, influenced by artists, such as B.B. King, Willie Nix and Joe Hill Louis. In 1952, Sam Phillips would start Sun Records, for both blues music and rock 'n' roll. This highly influential record label would eventually record Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Muddy Waters and, of course, Elvis Presley himself. These artists were the originators of early rockabilly, a style that remains popular today. Many of these artists worked with a blend of musical styles that had become popular throughout Tennessee, rather than focusing on a single type of music.
In the 1960s, a new type of R&B had arrived: Memphis Soul. Memphis Soul was distinct from other R&B developments of the time, having a more "funky" sound than the competing productions at Motown. Of course, all of this led naturally into the origins of rock 'n' roll, which had strong segments of punk rock and Southern rock in Tennessee. Throughout, blues, R&B and rock 'n' roll remained close to the African American community but also spread music in an extremely universal way.
In addition to blues, R&B and funk, Tennessee music was heavily influenced by country music and gospel music. This has given much of Memphis' music a distinctly Southern tone and differentiated it from the music that was being produced in other areas. Apart from being an incredible cultural influence, the music of Memphis also crossed traditional social lines and helped to blend communities, neighborhoods and classes. Socially, having similar musical tastes and enjoying similar musical acts, it brought people together.
With as storied a history as Memphis has, it goes without saying that it's had many notable musicians. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of incredible blues, jazz, funk, R&B and rock 'n' roll artists that either originated in or worked primarily in Memphis. Today, many musicians flock to Memphis as a way to learn more about the culture and their trade.
Some of the most famous artists of Memphis included:
These aren't just musicians who originated in Memphis or grew their style in Memphis, but rather musicians who had a distinct hand in creating Memphis' unique flavor. These musicians influenced Memphis and were influenced by Memphis and their legacy remains in the music that is still produced there.
It only makes sense that a place as musical as Memphis would have many incredible historical and musical sites to visit. Here are a few of the places that you want to go the next time you're in town:
These are only a few of the dozens of venues offered throughout Memphis. Go into a Memphis night club or event space and you're likely to be able to experience live music with a Memphis heart. Memphis has had an extraordinary amount of historical influence on the musical scene, but it also hasn't stopped growing. Memphis remains the heart of country music, soul music, and rock'n'roll, and it continues to influence artists even today.