Sounding out STAX in Memphis
8:45 a.m. 7/16/2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
The Afro-American Music Institute's Boys' Choir visited Memphis in an exchange with the STAX Music Academy Youth Tour, who visited Pittsburgh a month or so ago.
AAMI instructor Gabriel Gray filed this report:
July 13th: the Boys' Choir performed and toured at the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. They sang the African National Anthem accapella in the lobby and then toured what was before Dr. King's assassination, the Lorraine Hotel which has been converted into a spectacular and very emotionally heavy museum. We then toured Beale Street and were entertained at the Pepsi Stage by a couple of local blues groups. Later that night everyone went to the Fun Fest where we relaxed and played go carts, bumperboats, video games and more.
July 14th: The AAMI Boys' Choir performed 4 musical selections at SNAP! The STAX Summer Camp Grand Finale celebrating their 50th Anniversary as a record label held at the Cannon Center in Downtown Memphis at 7 pm. The show was spectacular. There were at least 250 children in the program from SNAP! and the Center was packed. It was really a joy to see so many children (especially black children) doing something so positive. The STAX Youth Tour group (after performing at various places such as Cleveland, Pittsburgh and D.C) performed at the program. The Camp participants performed and reenacted all of the songs recorded at STAX Records including "Shaft" by Issac Hayes, "Sitting in the Morning Sun" by Otis Redding and "I'll Take you There" by Mavis Staples. Even the famous "I am Somebody" speech by Rev. Jesse Jackson spoken at the WattsStax Concert was performed by the children. The artistic spin of these historic musical moments was captivating. The Boys' Choir was even heard by the Mayor of Memphis at the program, who has invited the Boys' Choir back to Memphis, all expenses paid.
July 15: The Boys' Choir performed at the Greenwood C.M.E. Church in Memphis, TN. They sang 2 selections and an impromptu "Somethings Got A Hold of Me" It was the church's anniversary which made it the performance especially important. Greenwood is a mega church in Memphis with a congregation of about 2000 people. After the boys ate the lunch provided by the church we all said our good byes to Greenwood C.M.E. and to Memphis and got back on the road headed for Pittsburgh.
July 16: Arrive in Pittsburgh at the Afro-American Music Institute at 6 a.m.
First published on July 16, 2007 at 9:35 am