In 1967, Stax Records sent its top artists on a first-ever tour of Europe, now known as the legendary 1967 Stax/Volt European Tour. Now, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that milestone event that catapulted Stax into the international limelight, the Stax Music Academy (SMA) has been invited to follow in their footsteps with its first-ever tour of France, England, and Ireland.
SMA has created a special concert show to celebrate the 1967 tour with soul stirring tunes originally performed and recorded by Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Eddie Floyd, Arthur Conley, Booker T. & the MGs, and others.
The first date scheduled for the tour is Sunday, July 9, at which time SMA will perform a fundraising concert in Manchester, England (location TBD). From there they travel to perform July 11, 2017 at the Cahors Blues Festival in Cahors, France, that country’s oldest and most established blues festival. Just some of the artists who’ve performed there during the citywide event’s 35 year run include Ray Charles, B.B. King, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and Buddy Guy. The following day the students perform at the Relâche Music Festival in Bordeaux, France. This is followed by concerts in Hitchin, England, King’s Place in London; National Concert Hall in Dublin, Ireland; Bristol Music Festival in Bristol, England; The Stables in Milton Keynes, England, and two performances at the Summer Tyne Festival in Newcastle/Gateshead, England.
Plans are also in the works for youth cultural exchanges, educational opportunities, sightseeing, and more, including an opening reception for a Stax Music Academy photography exhibit at London’s Leica Camera Gallery by renowned photographer Simon Emmett, who spent part of May 2016 photographing the students in Memphis.
While SMA has performed internationally in Italy, Australia, and Berlin, this commemorative tour of France, Ireland, and England will play to audiences who are lifelong Stax Records fans but don’t know about how the Soulsville Foundation is carrying the legacy of Stax Records into the future through these underserved young people. It is the only school in the world teaching young people the art form of American soul music and “The Memphis Sound” that was created in Memphis during the 1960s and 1970s, which is a worldwide phenomenon. This newfound awareness and fan base will open the doors for new international fundraising opportunities, media coverage, income from performance fees, and future, similar unique performance opportunities for the students of SMA.
The majority of the Stax Music Academy students attend via financial need-based scholarships the Soulsville Foundation provides. For many, this represents the first opportunity to travel beyond Memphis. SMA travel experiences have proven to have significant impact on the students’ desire to succeed in life, to boost their self-confidence and self-esteem, and to make them think more globally about their lives.
“This is absolutely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students of the Stax Music Academy,” said spokesman Tim Sampson. “We take the value of travel very seriously because we have seen how it changes the lives of young people, many of whom leave Memphis for the first time through these SMA trips. We see them fly in an airplane for the first time. We see them see the ocean for the first time. It instills in them the belief that success is within their grasp and expands their global view beyond just their own communities.
“We are currently working with media, travel planners, concert promoters, festival organizers, fundraisers, and others to make this the best possible experience for our students to be great ambassadors for Memphis, its music, and its lure as a great tourist destination,” Sampson continued. “We plan to create unforgettable memories not only for our students, but also for the audiences for whom they will be performing. This anniversary is a long time coming and there is no limit to the doors this will open for future travel for SMA.”
Plans are also in the works for filmmakers to travel with the students for a documentary to screen at European and American film festivals.
Partial funding is in place for the tour and SMA will receive performance fees and many in-kind meals and accommodations, but Sampson says further funding is necessary.
“Obviously, this is a very expensive endeavor,” he said. “SMA’s 12 students and 5 instructor chaperones will be on tour from July 7 through July 23. We need financial support from the public to help make this happen for these deserving young people.”
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For more information and to learn how to donate, please contact Tim Sampson 901-261-6324 or firstname.lastname@example.org.