Memphis debuts '50 Years of Soul' campaign

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The Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau launched a campaign to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of Stax Records and Royal Studio, which made music history with a roster of soul music artists that included Booker T. and the MGs, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, the Staple Singers, Al Green, Isaac Hayes and Rufus and Carla Thomas.

The CVB unveiled "Memphis Celebrates 50 Years of Soul," a year-long campaign at a press conference in New York City. The bureau put together a calendar of "Soul50" events and is releasing brochures to promote local attractions in connection with the anniversary, both musical landmarks and others, including the National Civil Rights Museum, The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the Memphis Zoo and the Children's Museum of Memphis.

During its heyday, major artists like Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and Dusty Springfield traveled to Memphis to record in the Stax studio to get that inimitable and in-demand sound.

Located on the Mississippi River about a third of the way between New Orleans and Chicago, Memphis was a key point in the Great Migration between 1915 and 1920 when more than a million Afro Americans moved from the south to the industrial centers of the north, and the jazz and blues of New Orleans moved with them, evolving into various styles along the way.

In the early 1900s, Memphis was known as a center of the blues of W.C. Handy and Bessie Smith, and was central to the rise of rock and roll with Sun Records in the 1940s and 1950s, which spawned the music careers of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Charlie Rich.

The CVB said it will use the occasion to promote Memphis landmarks of the city's rich musical history legacy, including the Rock 'n' Soul Museum, which tells the story of Memphis music from the 1930s through the 1970s, and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, which is located on the site of the original Stax Records headquarters and features more than 2,000 interactive exhibits, films, artifacts and pieces of memorabilia.

The city also will use the occasion to promote other music sites not directly connected with the Stax anniversary, including Sun Studios, Graceland, Ardent Studios and the Gibson Guitar Factory.

For information on Memphis, visit www.memphistravel.com; for more on the "Memphis Celebrates 50 Years of Soul" campaign, see www.memphissoul50.com.

To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].

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