Thursday, January 25, 2007

Memphis Celebrates 50 Years of Soul -- Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau New York City Press Conference - January 22, 2007

Memphis Celebrates 50 Years of Soul -- Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau New York City Press Conference - January 22, 2007

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

New York Press Conference and American Idol Memphis

Officially kicking off the 50 Years of Soul celebration, the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau made a trek to New York City and BB King’s on 42nd street to make an official media announcement. With the legends like Isaac Hayes, David Porter, Al Bell, Mable John, Steve Cropper and Jody Stephens (of Big Star fame) in tow, the city of Memphis put its best foot forward with a live band and a lengthy question and answer session.

While many stories, opinions and compliments were passed around, Isaac Hayes and David Porter, Stax Records’ most potent songwriting team for most of the ‘60s, stole the show, as they seemed to finish each other’s sentences. During the session, it occurred to me, and a number of reporters in the house, that among Isaac, David and Steve Cropper, nearly the complete Stax catalogue of songs was represented. To call these guys prolific would be an understatement. For a more thorough take on the press conference, click here:

Never one to understate, last night’s American Idol episode featured Memphis, Tennessee. After what many have called lackluster auditions in Minneapolis (they still got Prince) and Seattle, Memphis represented the depth of talent and appreciation for song in the South with a wide and varied group of singers and performers. While these early episodes may take some time out for a joke or two, or three, the talent attracted to Memphis was clearly a blessing to Simon, Randy and Paula. My personal favorites chose songs from Memphis-based artists: the Fidel Castro look alike Sean Michel who stomped his way through a soulful version of the recent Johnny Cash hit, “Gods Going To Cut You Down,” a traditional gospel song; and Sundance Head’s powerful rendition of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Stormy Monday.”

Memphis Music short film

Hey everyone. Working on a post about our recent press conference in New York, and a little commentary on last night's American Idol episode, but while you're waiting, check out this great short film on Memphis Music:

Friday, January 19, 2007

Memphis Celebrates 50 Years of Soul

Long a cultural and economic nexus, Memphis has an intriguing history as a crossroads for American musical genres. Blues, gospel, country, jazz, R&B and rock 'n' roll have all played a part in creating its compelling legacy. However, in 2007 it is the sweet sounds of soul music that will officially take center stage as "Memphis Celebrates 50 Years of Soul." For an entire year, the city that helped put soul on the map will engage visitors with sights, sounds, attractions and events inspired by one of the world's most universally beloved styles of music.

Turning back the clock to 1957 we can see the beginnings of soul music in the recordings of artists such as Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and others. At the same time in Memphis, seminal soul label Stax Records was just beginning. Eventually occupying an old movie theatre on the corner of McLemore Ave. and College St., the studio tapped into a wellspring of talent in this racially diverse area to create music that broke through stylistic and cultural barriers.

The talent showcased through Stax and other local labels, such as Willie Mitchell's Hi Records, includes some of the most revered artists in American music. Otis Redding, Al Green, Booker T. & The MG's, Sam & Dave, Rufus and Carla Thomas, The Staple Singers, Wilson Pickett and Isaac Hayes are a just a sampling of the artists who contributed to the city's soul heritage.

Honoring the 50th anniversary of legendary Stax Records and Royal Studio, the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau is once again highlighting Memphis's unique and rich musical heritage with a comprehensive marketing and public relations campaign for 2007: Memphis Celebrates 50 Years of Soul.

The campaign will combine national and international public relations events; television, print and interactive advertising; and collaborative efforts among the Memphis business community to generate tourism events, impact the local economy and enhance the image of Memphis as one of the premiere music destinations in the world.

For more information on all that's happening in the Year of Soul, go to