VOL. 133 | NO. 83 | Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Musician, Songwriter Sykes Joins Ardent as Chief Manager
By Kate Simone
Longtime songwriter, touring artist and studio owner Keith Sykes has joined Ardent Studios as chief manager, bringing more than 40 years’ experience in the music industry. More than 100 of Sykes’ songs have been recorded by other artists – including John Prine, Rosanne Cash and George Thorogood – and have sold more than 25 million records worldwide. In addition, he once played in Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band and co-wrote the 1979 hit “Volcano” with Buffett.
At Ardent, Sykes says, the chief manager’s job is to “have a vision of where you want the company to go, find the right people to execute your plan and stick to it. Make sure the workplace a fun place to be, and show appreciation for a job well done.”
Hometown: Murray, Kentucky
Experience: Hitchhiked 1966-67. First song recorded in ’67 by The Gentrys. Began playing for Holiday Inns in February 1968. Moved to New York City in in 1968. Performed on the Collage Coffee House Circuit August 1968 to mid-’73. First album released in 1970, Vanguard Records. Second album 1972, Vanguard Records. Third album 1977, RCA Records. Fourth album 1979, MCA Records. Played Saturday Night Live 1980. Nine more albums over the years. More than 100 songs recorded by other artists. More than 25 million copies sold worldwide. Studio owner and engineer 1993 to 2006. Owned publishing companies since 1974.
What talent do you wish you had? Being an aircraft pilot.
Who has had the greatest influence on you and why? Hank Williams, Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan. My big three. So much passion, excellence and integrity.
We’ve known you for so many years as a songwriter and performer. Will you still be writing/performing now that you’re at Ardent? Yes. But I’ll have to be a bit more selective about the gigs. The studio takes too much time to do as many as I’ve been doing.
You owned and operated your own studio, Woodshed Recording Studio, for 13 years. What did you learn from that experience? Listen to the artist. You’ll go on to the next project, but the artist has to be that same person forever. They need to be satisfied with the end result, even when you believe differently about how it should sound.
How does being an artist change your perspective on studio operations? Business is business and music is music. It’s tempting to make it one thing but that will never happen. You have to compartmentalize and do one or the other, sometimes on the same day!
Why do artists choose to record at Ardent, and why do record labels send artists like The Replacements or Jeff Buckley there? Ardent has history and is contemporary. We have analog gear and digital gear. We are a full-service studio with great engineers and a staff that goes the extra mile to make sure the artists and producers are as comfortable as possible.
What is involved in matching engineers to the artists who come to record at Ardent? It’s best to put engineers who like the kind of music they are recording, but most engineers like many types of music. Artists like engineers who are willing to try new things with them and I encourage that. Sometimes the fit you envision works great, sometimes not so much. But usually both the artists and engineers enjoy each other, especially when they’ve had a little time to gel.
You have done songwriters’ showcases. Do artists today get into the business with the same expectations that you had when you began writing songs and performing? I believe so. To get your music heard by as many people who enjoy your kind of music is usually the goal. I think that was and is what most artists want.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? Writing songs other artists enjoy and feel compelled to record.
What do you most enjoy about your work? I’ve always enjoyed working. When the project is working, that’s a really good feeling.
If you could give one piece of advice to young people, what would it be? Start with a title! If you have that, you already know how your song begins and ends, and what happens in the middle. Express it in your own way and, there you go.
Delner Franklin-Thomas has been appointed district director of the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Memphis District Office. Franklin-Thomas, a 28-year employee of the EEOC and former director of the EEOC Birmingham District Office, will continue to serve as acting district director for the Birmingham office. The EEOC Memphis District Office includes the Little Rock Area Office and the Nashville Area Office, and has jurisdiction over Tennessee, Arkansas and the northern part of Mississippi.
Blake Rodgers has joined Mirimichi Golf Course as superintendent. Rodgers comes to Mirimichi from Five Oaks Golf and Country Club in Lebanon, Tennessee. He has a degree in golf and sports turf management from Mississippi State University. Dustin Green, the previous superintendent, has been promoted to ?manager of operations for Mirimichi Turf and Nursery. Green also graduated from Mississippi State, earning a bachelor’s degree in agronomy with an emphasis in golf and sports turf management.
Dr. Florence Jones, president of Methodist North Hospital, is one of four Murray State University alumni set to receive the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award. The award recognizes alumni who have made meaningful contributions to their professions on a local, state and national level. Jones, a 1975 nursing alumna, is being honored for breaking through race and gender barriers during her more than 25 years in the health care industry. She will receive the award Friday, April 27, in Murray, Kentucky,
Agape Child & Family Services has added six new team members:
• Barbara Gray, who joins Agape as chief financial officer, has 30 years’ experience in accounting and previously served as director of financial reporting and accounting for the Memphis Grizzlies.
• Daniel Henley, Agape’s new director of faith formation and engagement, most recently served as a chaplain in Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare's Clinical Pastoral Education residency program.
• Dr. Harold Shank, who will serve as consultant as part of Agape's faith leadership team, is a longtime minister and educator who will help ensure faith continues to be infused in all efforts, programs and communication at the organization.
• Jermaine Shorter, Agape’s first-ever director of performance and quality improvement, most recently served as data manager at Youth Villages.
• Latoria Taylor, who joins as director of development, previously served as vice president of development for Junior Achievement of Memphis and the Mid-South.
• Benecia Tuthill, named operations director of Agape’s Powerlines Community Network, has more than 20 years of managerial and K-12 experience and will oversee the implementation of Agape's Families in Transition program and the nonprofit's community-based and school-based services.
The Tennessee Association of Museums has recognized the Memphis Pink Palace Museum with an Award of Excellence for temporary exhibits. The award was for the 2017 Pink Palace exhibit that explored the murders of Antoinette Rappel and Ell Persons in Memphis in 1917.