Monday, June 18, 2007

Things to do during Soul Week, Part 2

Soul Week represents a special time in Memphis music as it shines a white-hot spotlight on one of the city’s most unique and indigenous musical forms. In addition to the weeklong festivities throughout the city, we’d like to point out a few spots you need to check out when you hit town.

No Soul Week sojourn would be complete without spending a few hours at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. This 17,000-square-foot museum—on the original site of Stax Records— houses more than 2000 cultural artifacts, celebrating the music made famous by Otis Redding, Booker T. and the MGs, Isaac Hayes, the Bar-Kays, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Earth, Wind & Fire and more. In addition to Stax music and memorabilia, you’ll also find exhibits dedicated to the artists of Muscle Shoals, Motown, Atlantic and Memphis’ own Hi Records. The multi-media format delivers countless hours of music and video, as well as a model Soul Train dance floor and Isaac Hayes’ gold-plated Cadillac. And bringing the music to life, the museum puts on live concerts in Studio A, a near-exact recreation of the famous studio where Booker T and the MGs recorded hundreds of hit records.

For a more complete picture of Memphis music and how Memphis Soul came to be you absolutely must pay a visit to the Smithsonian Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum. More than a sound, Memphis music is also about a movement. From the rural fields of the 1930’s, to the Sun and Stax era of the 1970’s, to its continuing influence today, the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum tells the story of the musical pioneers who overcame racial and socio-economic barriers to create the music that shook the world.

An important aspect of soul music in Memphis was its connection to the Civil Rights Movement, and there’s no better place to engage in this part of the city’s past than one of our nation’s great cultural treasures, the National Civil Rights Museum. Housed in the Lorraine Motel, site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this exceptional museum brings the stories of civil and human rights to life in moving fashion. Interpretive exhibits and in-depth audio/visual displays focus on milestone events like the Montgomery bus boycott, the Memphis sanitation strike and much more.

To further explore the city’s cultural and historical connection to the African-American experience, be sure to book a tour with Heritage Tours. Highlighting African-American sites and contributions to the city’s heritage, tours include locations that served as leading slave trading centers, plantations of the South, antebellum homes and the history of the Union occupation in Memphis, the Lorraine Motel, historic churches and the Burkle Estate, a pre-Civil War way station on the Underground Railroad.

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