SNAP! After School

by Soulsville Foundation
Stax Music Academy Grand Finale Performance
Stax Music Academy Grand Finale Performance

We have wrapped up a fantastic summer filled with top-notch programming and performance opportunities for our students and are eagerly awaiting the return of our students for our fall semester in just a few short weeks. We are currently in planning and auditioning mode and anticipate that the 2014-2015 school year will be our most successful year yet. We are constantly blown away by the talented students and instructors who come through our doors and are ready to get to work!

Below you will find a re-cap of all the wonderful things that have been happening on our campus recently:

Summer Music Experience 2014

The Summer Music Experience (SME) 2014 was a huge success. Approximately 80 students participated in the 5-week program.

This summer was the first year for SME to consist of 3 different experiences for the students. The first week was Les Paul Be the Band week which was essentially a band and songwriting competition. The students were divided into teams and were responsible for writing and performing original songs. These songs were judged by a panel of guest judges, including noteworthy musicians such as Lil Rounds of American Idol. The winning group of this this competition was able to perform their song in the spotlight at the SMA Grand Finale Concert and the Levitt Shell.

The next three weeks were the traditional Summer Music Experience where students took classes and worked in their ensembles. The classes that were offered to our students included Stax History, Music Production, Music Business, Songwriting, and Marketing/PR. These classes were taught by SMA instructors and visiting teachers including Nashville-based songwriter Betty Crutcher. Students were divided into four groups, New Orleans, Chicago, St. Louis, and Delta, fittingly named after blues-heavy regions. The small group format enabled students to get to know each other better personally and placed a strong emphasis on the importance of teamwork. Throughout these weeks students engaged with visiting artists and industry professionals for Brown Bag lunch sessions.

The final week of SME was the Steve Cropper Blues Guitar Experience. During this week students took guitar classes at the newly opened Memphis Slim Collaboratory. This week also served as a “tech week” so that students could rehearse for the Grand Finale Concert.

Grand Finale Concert- July 2, 2014

Each year the culmination of our Summer Music Experience is The Grand Finale Concert, held at the famous Levitt Shell where Elvis Presley once performed. In spite of having to reschedule the concert due to rain a large crowd which consisted of families from the Soulsville neighborhood as well as music lovers from across the city attended. Based on audience and attendance and feedback, this event was a huge success.

Alumni Band Performances

This summer, the Stax Music Academy Alumni Band has expanded its number of performance opportunities due to increasing notoriety and a partnership with Creative Aging, a local organization that provides arts programming to senior citizens. In addition to performing at nursing homes and other venues across the city, this band of Stax Music Academy alums performed every Tuesday at the Stax Museum and every Monday and Friday at B.B.King's Blues Club on Beale Street. We see the Alumni Band as a way to keep our former students in the Stax Music Academy family, provide them with paid summer employment, further hone their musical performance skills, and offer tourists and locals alike a unique music experience.

Stax Music Academy Alumni Band at B.B.King
Stax Music Academy Alumni Band at B.B.King's
Stax Music Academy
Stax Music Academy's "Red Carpet Day"


Seniors taking the "Oath of the City"
Seniors taking the "Oath of the City"

GlobalGiving Quarterly Report: Winter 2014

Stax Music Academy’s SNAP! After School 

We are so proud to announce that once again, every single senior in our Soulsville Charter School has been accepted to a four-year college! Three graduating classes so far since beginning in 2005, and 100% college acceptance all three years! We are so proud of the seniors in the Stax Music Academy and wish them the best of luck!


Students in the Spotlight!

We’ve asked each of our seniors to let us know when they’ve been accepted into colleges and when they receive scholarships. Let’s take a moment to share some of our students’ achievements:

Taylor Barksdale has been awarded the Pat Gill Scholarship by the Omicron Chi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She performed a comedic monologue called “The Roller Coaster” featuring the character Roxy. She also sang Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It. She also won the Best Essay and received $2,500 to the college of her choice.

Leah Buckley has received a Renaissance Music Scholarship for a full tuition amount of $24,496/year from Bethel University.

Alandria Ivory is the recipient of several scholarship awards, including the Excel Scholarship from Union University; an academic honors award of $5,500/year from Savannah College of Art and Design; the BSU scholarship from Xavier University for $52,000, and other awards, culminating into an additional $22,000, over the course of 4 years. Hendrix College has also rewarded Miss Ivory an academic scholarship for $7,000/year and a “Odyssey Distinction” award for $12,000/year.

Helena Jones has been awarded $8,000 through the Renaissance Scholarship from Bethel University.

David Pruitt has been awarded $14,500 through the Renaissance scholarship from Bethel University.

Karlos Stevison has been awarded $9,000 through the Renaissance scholarship from Bethel University.

Josiah Taylor has received $14,000 scholarship from Oakwood University, as well as a $10,000 Renaissance scholarship from Bethel University. From Fisk University comes a $10,000 Academic scholarship; from Rust College, Mr. Taylor has been rewarded a scholarship in the amount of $12000/year.

Jarveous Williams has received the Renaissance scholarship from Bethel University in the amount of $26,000.

Congratulations to all of Stax Academy Seniors and their future endeavors!

Additional achievers:
Brenae Johnson won the Maestro Award in a singing competition in New Orleans on March, 29 2014. She competed in the solo category. Sing, Brenae!


Programming at SMA (SMA/TSCS)

The students of The Soulsville Charter school are blossoming as spring kicks into full swing!

The eighth grade choir performed with a positive reception for The Soulsville Charter School’s Black History Program on February 28th. Led by director Jiana Hunter, the students beautifully led the school in the Negro National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.

The eighth graders are preparing orchestral repertoire of western art music classics and R&B favorites. For the first time in The Soulsville Charter School, strings, winds and percussion classes are preparing students to perform together on one stage.

You can hear both groups performing on May 13th for the TSCS Middle School Music performance. Save the date!


Black History Month Performance

On Wednesday, February 26, 2014, Stax Music Academy got out their platform shoes, afro wigs, and bellbottoms as they performed at Minglewood Hall in celebration of Black History Month. Based on the famed television show Soul Train and inspired by the book Love, Peace and Soul! The Behind the Scenes Story of America’s Favorite Dance Show: Soul Train by Ericka Blount Danois, the Stax Music Academy’s “Peace, Love and Soulsville” was an original musical complete with live music, dancing, and retro-era costumes.

The impetus of this year’s show, according to Soulsville Foundation Communications Director Tim Sampson, was the Stax Museum of American Soul Music brining in Danois for a signing when her book was released in October 2013. “Soul Train played a large part in the success of taking so many Stax Records acts to a national audience in the early 1970s that we thought it was a perfect fit to have Ericka come for an event at the Stax Museum,” he said. “I think we all got a bit of Soul Train fever and it just made sense for the Stax Music Academy to ‘get on board’ and keep up the momentum.”Danois (Picured below) was SMA’s guest at the evening performance of the event. "I had no idea it would be anything like this," she said afterward. “How can we take his to the national stage?”

With generous funding from Laurelwood Shopping Center and ArtsFirst First Tennessee Foundation, SMA was able to perform for approximately 1,600 young people at no charge in two shows, and the ticketed evening event drew a crowed of approximately 1,000 people.


Alumni Corner

Currently, I am a senior at Middle Tennessee State University majoring in Political Science with minors in African American Studies and Speech & Theater. On May 11th, I will be traveling to Cape Town, South Africa for three weeks. I will be graduating in August. I am planning to attend graduate school and get my master’s in Non-Profit Management.
I got involved with Stax the summer before my 9th grade year in high school (I think it was 2006). During my time with the Academy, I had some extraordinary opportunities. Two opportunities in particular that come to mind are the 2008 Summer Soul Tour to Australia and my participation in the Berklee 5 Week Summer Program.

Stax is an organization that is very dear to my heart because it helped to make me a well-rounded individual. I was exposed to a world of possibility that some people only dream about. Last summer, I served as the program coordinator for the Stax Music Academy Alumni Band.

Amber Robinson - SMA Alumna c/o 2010




These are merely a few rare and unique opportunities to mentor Memphis youth through music education and unique performance opportunities. Please continue to assist our efforts and know that your gift is being put to use, celebrating the soulful past—and securing the bright future—of this legendary ‘Soulsville’ community. Thanks for your generous support.

Congrats to our Seniors!!
Congrats to our Seniors!!


Adrian Williams - SMA Alum
Adrian Williams - SMA Alum '13

GlobalGiving Quarterly Report: Winter 2014

Stax Music Academy’s SNAP! After School 

This winter has been a true testament as to just how strong of a program we are. As we continue to grow and expand our programming grows even faster! We have welcomed new students this quarter that have risen to the occasion and already performed at three different events since Christmas, and are preparing for their fourth at the end of February! All while going to school, studying hard, and a few extra curriculars here and there. The talent, determination, and passion of our SMA kids never cease to amaze.


Happy New Year!

It’s that time of year again. Time to reflect on culture, history and the very makings of “soul”. The very things that make Memphis so powerful.

Don’t forget to purchase tickets and join on February 26th, for a Black History Month production sure to touch the soul!

ALL   ABOARD...this   Memphis   Train

“Peace, Love and Soulsville”

Twas the night before President’s day and all through our home, not an instrument was blaring not even a ‘bone’. The records were spun by the studio with care, in hopes that “real” music, soon would be there.

The students saw visions of rounds of applause hands black and white, cheering the cause, with Stax in their kerchief and Soul in their cap, this Soooouuuuul Train kept movin’, ker-plat, ker-plat.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my office to see what was the matter.  Away to the window, I flew like a flash tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.

When what to my wandering eyes should appear, Aretha then Rufus in 70’s, wait 80’s and 90’s gear...  

Stay tuned...


Programming at SMA (SMA/TSCS)

We are making exciting changes in the structure of music education between the Stax Music Academy and the Soulsville Charter School.

January saw the inception of SMA@TSCS After School Programming. Students throughout the Soulsville Charter School campus are learning brass band, choir, chamber strings and drumline from SMA instructors. TSCS high school students have the opportunity to mentor and lead younger and less experienced musicians under the tutelage of their instructors. We are thrilled with the opportunities for musical excellence and student leadership.

We are pleased with the positive communication and mission-sharing between the administrative staffs of SMA and TSCS Middle School. As a result of our collaborations, the music education of TSCS has made dynamic changes for the better at the start of this new year.

Eighth graders will receive music instruction during the day in either strings, winds, percussion or choral training in a repertoire-driven performance ensemble. They and the community can look forward to a cumulative performance in May.



Stax Music Academy and Memphis Grizzlies host 10th Annual Staxtacular Fund-raising event. It was another banner year for Staxtacular Presented by SunTrust, the largest fund-raiser of the year for the Stax Music Academy.

Held this year on Saturday, January 18, 2014, this year was the 10th  anniversary for the event that debuted in 2004 with then-Memphis Grizzlies hosts Shane Battier and Brian Cardinal and their wives Heidi and Danielle. Memphis Grizzlies’ guards Tony Allen, Mike Conley, and Quincy Pondexter hosted this year’s "Suit Up and Play" inspired event alongside other members of the team and coaching staff.

The local feel of Memphis’ rich adoration for blues and basketball was felt throughout the museum where guests were treated to a ‘World Tour’ buffet, featuring sushi to sliders to Southern cuisine. Bourbon samplings and awe-inspired desserts were also available at an open bar. The event also included complimentary valet parking, live and silent auctions, and a performance by the world-famous

Stax  Music  Academy. Live music was also provided by Bo-Keys with Percy Wiggins, featuring Stax Records Howard Grimes on drums and fomer Bar-Kays member Ben Cauley on trumpet.

 In addition to the live and silent auctions at the $150-per-person, sold-out gala, there was an online auction that started on January 2, 2014 and ran through the end of the event. New to the event this year was Mobile Bidding, by Bidding for Good. All bidding for the silent auction was done via personal mobile devices.

Since its inception in 2004, Staxtacular has continued to grow and has netted close to $1,000,000 for the Stax Music Academy. Final numbers aren’t in yet for this year’s event, but preliminary figures look great and the funds raised will go a long way to helping Stax Music Academy continue changing the lives of young people through the power of music.


Alumni Corner

My name is Adrian Williams, and I’m in the second semester of my freshman year at Rhodes College. I hope all is well at McLemore and College just as they are here at Parkway and University. (See what I did there?)

I am pleased to inform you that I am having a positive college experience so far.  While I have been met with some challenges and speed bumps, what there has been to gain from being at Rhodes supersedes the inevitable frustration that will meet every freshman at any college.

Be Ready! More importantly, what has proven to be the most valuable and helpful tool on my journey for higher education is, being true to who I am.   It is important to be open to new experiences, friends, and moral and ethical ideas, which you are bound to encounter.

However, masking your uniqueness will prevent you from being appreciated for your authentic self and, moreover,  you will lose a sense of who you are rather than gain that sense. This is counterproductive to one of the fundamental goals of life: self-actualization.

Authenticity is one of the many virtues that I have learned to value during my time in SMA, and it translates in my life as an artist, a college student, and an individual.

All things considered, I am still involved in music. I am in an ensemble and I happen to have very talented and musical hall mates who I jam with religiously.

I feel right at home.

I hope that you all have an exceptional February and a great Black History Month

Until next time...



These are merely a few rare and unique opportunities to mentor Memphis youth through music education and unique performance opportunities. Please continue to assist our efforts and know that your gift is being put to use, celebrating the soulful past—and securing the bright future—of this legendary ‘Soulsville’ community. Thanks for your generous support.

Staxtacular 2014 Performance
Staxtacular 2014 Performance
CEO Mark Wender with Senior Alandria
CEO Mark Wender with Senior Alandria


Victor Wooten Workshop
Victor Wooten Workshop

GlobalGiving Quarterly Report: Fall 2013

Stax Music Academy’s SNAP! After School 

This fall has gotten off to a great start. We continue to grow, as we expand our programming incorporating music education to the curriculum at the Soulsville Charter School, reaching new heights, and setting even higher goals. Our future soul communicators have really demonstrated dedication and determination getting this new school year and music season started off on the right note!


Welcome back!

Less than a month into the year, we have had workshops and visits from the world-renown Bass Player Victor Wooten, Rick James’ protégées- the Mary Jane Girls and former Stax Artist Sam Moore returned home to Soulsville for the first time in over 2 decades.  Like a powerful surge, Stax Music Academy has become the sonar for today’s Soul Music Eclectic in calling out across the world in shaping not only the next generation of Soul Communicators, but the Soul Ambassadors of tomorrow.


Stax Music Academy has formally expanded into handling the music education for The Soulsville Charter School Middle School during the day and has expanded our SNAP Afterschool Program to providing private lesson opportunities with local artists and music professionals for all of our students to receive. In addition, the Academy will be facilitating routine community service and leadership development opportunities where all students will be required to participate in at least 2 workshops a semester. Parents, if your child has not signed up for our supplemental “Auxiliary Track”-4pm-5pm, 2 hours a week of training during their allotted ensemble days- please make this happen. 


New Programming at SMA (SMA/TSCS)

The Stax Music Academy is so excited to team up with the Soulsville Charter School as we provide all Soulsville students with dynamic music education during the school day. With the TSCS Initiative, SMA staff is now teaching choir, ethnomusicology, percussion, strings and winds to the sixth, seventh and eighth graders here on our campus. We are so excited to reach even more students and prepare them to engage the world as musicians and soul communicators.


Also new this year, SNAP! Afterschool Program is offering various tracks prior to ensemble rehearsals. Students may choose to study dance, drama, guitar, keyboard, electronic music and various levels of studio production. Through the tracks programming, students are gaining the skills necessary to becoming well-rounded and effective performers.


Victor Wooten Workshop

On Tuesday, September 10, 2013, students of the Stax Music Academy (SMA) were treated to a master class with five-time GRAMMY Award-winning bassist, Victor Wooten. All student musicians were invited to participate and bass players got the rare opportunity to engage in a Q& A and jam with one of the world’s foremost players of the instrument.  Wooten is a bass player, composer, author and producer. He has won the “Bass Player of the Year” award from Bass Player magazine three times in a row, and was the first person to win the award more than once.

Students who attended the workshop all agreed that it was inspiring.

SMA student Solomon Smith said about the workshop, “It was exciting and nice. The workshop inspired me to change my mindset on how I approach music.”

David McKenzie added, “The workshop was wonderful, it was the best workshop I have ever been to. It really touched my heart and inspired me to want more out of my guitar.”


Community Corner

SMA was represented at the Christian Brothers Career and Internship Expo. We were able to connect with 14 students interested in working/interning with SMA!

On Friday, September 27, the pilot run for private study provided instruction in voice, saxophone, bass guitar, and piano for about 20 students. The next private study date will take place after fall break.*

During the week of Sep. 30 to Oct. 4, the Senior Academy students had the opportunity to see two performances: the dress rehearsal for the opera “Rigoletto” at GPAC on Oct. 1 (thoroughly enjoyed by students and staff!); and “FABULATION: or the Re-education of Undine”, a theatre production at the University of Memphis on Oct. 4.

Starting Friday, Oct. 11 from 2:30-5:30, our students will join the UrbanArt Commission to paint a mural on the pink abandoned salon that faces Stax on McLemore. This project is scheduled be completed over four Fridays and is open to all SMA students.

Bridge Builders will lead two workshops for high schools students. We are eager to see where this opportunity will inspire our students to become a strong leader, at home and in the community.


These are merely a few rare and unique opportunities to mentor Memphis youth through music education and unique performance opportunities. Please continue to assist our efforts and know that your gift is being put to use, celebrating the soulful past—and securing the bright future—of this legendary ‘Soulsville’ community. Thanks for your generous support.


Summer Soul Tour
Summer Soul Tour

GlobalGiving Quarterly Report: Summer 2013

Stax Music Academy’s SNAP! After School 

This summer has been one for record books at the Stax Music Academy! From packed house venues to delivering soul in the bayou, these kids have really out done themselves this quarter!

100% Acceptance into college!!!

The 100 percent acceptance rate was achieved last year in May. This year, it happened in February.

Just some of the schools to which students have been accepted this year are Rhodes College, Wesleyan University, Wake Forest University, Tufts University, University of Tennessee Knoxville, Barnard College, Morehouse College, Carleton College, Sewanee: The University of the South, Centre College, University of Virginia, and Rice University. Together the students received a total of over $9.2 million in scholarships.

SMA on Beale

As the Stax Music Academy marks its 10th year in 2013; its students can look back on a decade of performances with famous music stars, appearances at legendary venues and travel to exotic locales. What they’ve never done, however, is play regularly in Memphis.

All that’s changed this summer as a dozen Stax Music Academy alumni have been performing together as part of a series of free concerts at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and at B.B. King’s on Beale. It’s the first time such a group of former students — billed as the SMA Alumni Band — have joined forces.  READ MORE HERE.

Summer Music Experience (SME)

The Stax Music Academy’s (SMA) June 2013 Summer Music Experience focused on “Soul Rockin’ Blue,” focusing on the evolution of early blues through later urban blues. With guest faculty members as diverse as Sun Records artist Randy Haspel of Randy & the Radiants to internationally renowned opera star Kallen Esperian, the students studied – in addition to the music itself – music business, marketing, production, songwriting, intellectual property law, and more.

Full House SME Finale!

The Summer Music Experience culminated with a public concert at Memphis’ Levitt Shell on June 30, 2013, in front of an estimated audience of 6,000 people, the largest to date this year in the Levitt Shell Concert Series. The show featured several original numbers written and produced by the kids themselves over the summer. Leaving the audience wanting more, we are already looking forward to next summer!

Summer Soul Tour

Following the SMA sendoff concert, the Summer Music Experience took 25 students on a trip through the Mississippi Delta, performing at some of the region’s top blues venues and culminating with two concerts in New Orleans.

First stop was Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi. While in Clarksdale, the students also toured the Delta Blues Museum. From there, the Summer Soul Tour moved on to Indianola, Mississippi, where the students performed the same evening at one of the region’s most important juke joints, Club Ebony.

Fulfilling a last-minute request for Saturday night, the students were the featured entertainment in New Orleans for the Texas Southern University’s National Alumni Conference. Between sets, the students were treated to dinner at the famed Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz Club in New Orleans 9th Ward, where they witnessed both the remaining destruction and new revitalization in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Before heading home, the students performed at New Orleans’ legendary Tipitina’s music club during a youth music festival hosted by the Tipitina Foundation. Like SMA, the Tipitina Foundation is a Berklee College of Music City Music Network site. FULL ARTICLE HERE.

The students were also mentioned in a featured article in Baton Rouge’s The Advocate, click HERE to read.


These are merely a few rare and unique opportunities to mentor Memphis youth through music education and unique performance opportunities. Please continue to assist our efforts and know that your gift is being put to use, celebrating the soulful past—and securing the bright future—of this legendary ‘Soulsville’ community. Thanks for your generous support.



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Organization Information

Soulsville Foundation

Location: Memphis, TN - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Maggie Russell
Chief Operating Officer
Memphis, TN United States

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