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VOL. 129 | NO. 162 | Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Memphis Music Nonprofit to Honor Stevie Wonder

By Andy Meek

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The music nonprofit launched by Memphis music icon David Porter has been busy since its launch in 2012, laying groundwork and assembling talent. Now it’s poised to bring a musical superstar to the city for a bash in October.


Porter’s The Consortium MMT, which stands for Memphis Music Town, is a nonprofit dedicated to cultivating local homegrown talent. On Oct. 11, it’s honoring Stevie Wonder at “A Soulright Evening” at the Cannon Center, with the festivities to include a performance by Wonder.

The event, presented by Southeastern Asset Management, will also showcase artists paying tribute to Wonder’s repertoire of hits. And serving as music director and producer will be “American Idol” music director Rickey Minor, a four-time Emmy nominee and former bandleader on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

“Memphis is rich in musical history and provides the perfect backdrop for a celebration honoring one of soul’s greatest artists,” Porter said in a statement about the event honoring Wonder, which also will present him with the consortium’s inaugural “Epitome of Soul Award.”

For his part, Porter is a luminary as well and brings considerable industry expertise to bear as part of his talent cultivation.

Porter has won multiple Grammy Awards, for example, and was inducted in 2005 into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In addition to his catalog sales exceeding 300 million units, his songwriting credits include well-known hits such as Sam & Dave’s “Soul Man,” Mariah Carey’s “Dreamlover” and hits for Biggie Smalls and Will Smith, among others.

Porter’s more than 1,700 songwriting and composing credits also include work for Celine Dion, Otis Redding, Drake, Eminem and others.

The event honoring Wonder, meanwhile, is one of a few big developments at the nonprofit of late.

Porter’s organization recently merged with the Memphis Music Foundation, which had been chaired by Stax Records executive Al Bell, and as a result, the music foundation gave up its name and office to become part of the consortium.

The boards of both organizations approved the merger in June, and the combined entity is using the consortium’s name.

Bell said the merger will help both entities pool their resources to get where they want to go faster. They’ve already both been focused, he explained, on providing musicians and entrepreneurs with solutions and tools to help them make a living in music, and now they can rely on the expertise from each other to keep doing that.

To support the combined operations, the consortium announced it will set up a “talent development center.” It will house the Memphis Music Resource Center and the consortium’s flagship “Emerging Stars Network” program.

The Memphis Music Resource Center was established in 2008 as part of the MemphisED Memphis Fast Forward economic development program.

FedEx Services executive David Edmonds, a music foundation board member, said the merger would unify and strengthen both organization’s efforts.

Personal energy, financial resources and community support work best, he said, when they’re stacked up behind a single organization with a unifying mission that’s not spread across multiple entities.

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