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VOL. 127 | NO. 143 | Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jeremy Park

Heart Full Of Soul

By Jeremy Park

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Last week we discussed the Memphis Crisis Center, which is a volunteer-powered agency serving as a full-service, 24/7 lifeline (901-CRISIS-7) for those in need of a caring ear or support in times of crisis and distress. This week let us spotlight an organization focused on preserving, promoting and celebrating the many unique cultural assets of the Soulsville, USA, neighborhood of Memphis, while supporting the development of new educational and community-building opportunities for its residents and stakeholders: the Soulsville Foundation.

The Soulsville Foundation was created in Memphis in the late 1990s by a group of concerned local business leaders, philanthropists and former employees of Stax Records to ensure that the rich legacy of the Soulsville, USA, community would not be lost to history. Soulsville was home to Stax in the 1960s and ‘70s but, unfortunately, found itself in a state of blight and decay in the decades following. All of that has definitely changed, though! When you step foot on the Soulsville campus now, you see a vibrant future with hundreds of smiling students, modern schools, a world-class museum and a community embracing its role as a beacon of opportunity.

The Soulsville Foundation funds and operates three subsidiary organizations on its campus: The Soulsville Charter School, Stax Music Academy and Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Launched in 2005, the Soulsville Charter School is a tuition-free public charter school that combines an academically rigorous core with a music-rich environment to prepare students for success in college. The school serves approximately 500 students in grades six through 12, operating on a lottery basis and realizing impressive results. All 51 seniors in the first graduating class of 2012 were accepted to college with a combined total of more than $3.8 million dollars in scholarships! About 80 percent of those students will be the first in their family to attend college.

Stax Music Academy is a unique learning center that serves primarily at-risk youth with mentoring experiences, high-quality music education programs and performance opportunities. The Stax Museum of American Soul Music, opened in 2003, is the world’s first and only full-fledged soul music museum. It has quickly become a worldwide tourist destination and has welcomed hundreds of thousands of people into its 17,000 square feet of exhibits and vast collection of memorabilia, along with live music events, special exhibits, panel discussions and community outreach programs.

Learn more by simply experiencing the magic of the Stax Museum, taking a tour of the schools, or visiting www.soulsvillefoundation.org. As another treat, Napa Café is presenting “A Heart Full of Soul” on Aug. 19 and 20. The benefit dinners will feature six courses and nine wines, each paired with a specific song from the Stax catalog, which will be performed by Stax Music Academy students. For more information and reservations, contact Napa Café at 683-0441.

Jeremy Park, director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at jeremyp@lpinsurance.com and followed on Twitter (@lpbreakfastclub) and Facebook (facebook.com/lpbreakfastclub).

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