The Memphis Music Magnet Plan Revisited:
On March 3rd, 2016 Community LIFT held a Creative Placemaking Retreat at the Center for Southern Folklore. We have compiled a presentation including notes from the retreat and our creative placemaking work plan for Soulsville USA over the next couple of years. We created this document referencing the original Memphis Music Magnet plan from 2008 and have updated it based on feedback from our partners and stakeholders during the retreat. In an attempt to align our calendar and our work where we see partnership possibilities, we have added a section under each goal with identifiable responsible parties. Please note that this is a living document and we need your help with the work that lies ahead. We expect to make edits and changes to this work plan. On behalf of Community LIFT as the Creative Placemaking Coordinator and the rest of our staff, we thank you for your participation in this process. You can see the presentation here.
The Memphis Music Magnet is helping to transform the Soulsville USA neighborhood, using music and art to tell stories, activate spaces, reclaim vacant buildings, and create interaction. Through these activities, music is acting as a magnet – connecting neighbors, bringing former residents back, and attracting new visitors who bring vibrancy.
Our current signature project is the development of Memphis Slim Collaboratory.
Memphis Slim Collaboratory
On Saturday, April 26 the Soulsville USA community will step into the spotlight again as the restoration of the Memphis Slim house is completed and the space is opened to the public as the Memphis Slim Collaboratory. This property is part of the neighborhood’s rich musical heritage and will contribute to its future as a music-centered community space designed to foster artistic collaboration, music training, and neighborhood storytelling. The collaboratory resource will provide rehearsal space, a training studio to support emerging artists as well as apprentices learning the production business, and a collaboration lounge where local musicians can meet and connect.
The property, at 1130 College Street adjacent to the Stax Museum, was the home of legendary blues musician Memphis Slim (Peter Chatman), whose “Every Day I Have the Blues” is a genre standard. The original home was built in 1912 and was owned by Memphis Slim’s father, who was also a bluesman. The front porch was a place where not only family, but the likes of Rufus Thomas and Isaac Hayes would come to hang out.
As an element of the broader plan, the Memphis Slim Collaboratory will function as a “for us, by us” resource, with musicians, community organizations, and neighborhood residents ultimately determining the day-to-day uses of the space. The studio and rehearsal space will utilize a co-op model and provide training opportunities for pre-professionals. The collaboratory will also support other community and creative programs including neighborhood story telling and oral histories, dance workshops and after school activities.
Symphony Soul Project
The Memphis Symphony Orchestra (MSO) is engaged in a yearlong residency in Soulsville USA with programming that includes a series of unique musical collaborations performed in currently vacant community spaces, mentoring at neighborhood schools, programs for youth and seniors, and leadership training for area neighborhood associations.
To host the MSO concerts and other cultural activities, a vacant grocery store at a key neighborhood location has been re-imagined and repurposed as a temporary performance venue. The kickoff event at the venue featured Soulsville native and soul legend Booker T. Jones alongside the symphony and youth performers from the Stax Music Academy – a representation of both the foundation and the future of Memphis music through a unique diversity of sound.
Symphony Soul Project Performances:
Saturday, April 20: THE MUSIC MAGNET SOULFEST
Black Rock Revival || Tonya Dyson || Memphis Black Arts Alliance Jazz-A-F!RE Ensemble
Live.Seed Poets || Jason da Hater || c’beyohn
Memphis Symphony Orchestra’s Opus One with Hope Clayburn’s Soul Scrimmage
Saturday, April 20: THE MUSIC MAGNET SOULFEST
Tuesday, February 26
HOLST: The Planets
Sunday, February 17
A Memphis Gospel Celebration
Monday, October 29, 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Berklee City Music & Stax Music Academy Master Class with George Clinton
featuring the Stax Music Academy!
Sunday, October 14, 4:00 p.m: Stax! The Memphis Sound
Booker T. Jones, Soulsville Charter School, William Bell, Susan Marshall, Wendy Moten,
with special guests Kirk Whalum and Wayne Jackson