The corner of College Street and Mclemore Avenue in South Memphis is home to the only museum in the world dedicated to preserving the legacy of Stax Records and American Soul Music. Above the entrance of the building is a memorable marquee that reads SOULSVILLE USA. In 1960, on the same corner, stood an old movie theatre that had been made into a recording and record label studio by siblings Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton. The studio, known as Stax Records’ Studio A, from 1960-1975, was THE place where artists who are now American icons recorded music that would change pop culture globally. Artists that put Memphis on the map for music lovers and continue to create awe and inspiration. Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & The M.G.’s, Eddie Floyd, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Sam & Dave, Shirley Brown… Do you see where I am going here? Icons. Right?
The label closed in 1975, and in 1989 the hallowed ground that was Stax’s Studio A, which inspired so many and housed so much creation, was regrettably demolished. In 2003, former Stax Records employee Deannie Parker and others ensured the museum in its place. 2023 marks the twentieth year of the museum, which is part of an organization known as the Soulsville Foundation.
Under Executive Director Jeff Kollath, the museum offers over 30 free public events annually, including live concerts, lectures, and youth programming. This year, in celebration of twenty years, the museum is pulling out all the tricks to lay the path for the museum’s future.
In addition to the shiny new remodeling of the museum’s lobby and gift store, the museum will host a live music series featuring popular artists that have been influenced by the genres of soul & R&B. In the spring, the museum will launch a mobile Stax experience called the Soul Mobile that will travel the country spreading peace, love, and soul music.
Check out a few of the museum’s key events coming up this spring, and go to staxmuseum.com and social media pages for the latest events and updates on the 20th Anniversary of the museum.
Tuesday, March 7th, 7pm
Stax Soul Session, Black Country Music: Conversation with Author Francesca Royster
Saturday, March 11th, 1pm
Family Day At STAX! Free admission, crafts, live music, and food trucks.
Saturday, April 22nd, 10am
The Soul Mobile debuts on Record Store Day in Memphis, featuring exclusive merchandise and live DJs. Check out social media for where to find the traveling Stax experience closer to the debut date.
Saturday, April 29th, 7pm
Night Train Gala Event. The return of Stax Museum’s annual party benefiting The Soulsville Foundation.
A note from the Author: I am the Director of Marketing at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. I began working for Stax Museum in 2017, left in 2019, and came back home to Stax in 2022. There isn’t a much better scenario than figuring out ways to spread the power of Memphis soul music to fans and future fans for a living. How could anyone not love Soul music? If you know the answer, please note that the question was rhetorical. – Jayne Ellen White