In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Stax Music Academy (SMA), Stax Records owner Concord has announced the Concord Stax Scholarships, which will provide full tuition to at least 20 students in each year over the next five school years. Concord has pledged a minimum of $1 million through donations from its owners, team members, friends, and partners. With this new funding, the Concord Stax Scholarships will underwrite music and life skills advancement for at least 100 students as well as appropriate resources needed to support SMA career development initiatives over the term of the partnership.
Operated by the Soulsville Foundation, the Stax Music Academy inspires young people from under-resourced communities in the greater Memphis area with industry-centric music education and creative youth programming that enhances their academic, cognitive, performance, and leadership skills by utilizing music with an intense focus on the rich legacy and tradition of Stax Records. Since its founding in 2000, SMA has fostered and coached over 4,000 students in music theory, the art of storytelling through composition of their own music and the basics of the music business to assure that each young artist has the necessary knowledge to earn music scholarship to college and understands how to make a living in music.
Occasionally, SMA students have the honor of performing alongside artists at important events such as Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons at the Biden Presidential Inauguration TV Special “Celebrating America,” seen by tens of millions of viewers worldwide.
Most importantly, Stax Music Academy helps students enhance their character by teaching leadership, teamwork, and discipline. In the last 12 years, SMA graduates have a 100% college acceptance rate and 67% of the SMA class of 2020 earned college music scholarships.
The Concord Stax Scholarships will be presented to each student in the name of an iconic Stax recording artist or executive including Stax Records founder Jim Stewart, former Stax Records owner Al Bell, members of famed Stax solo and house band Booker T. and the MG’s, former Stax Records performing artist and Director of Publicity Deanie Parker, The Bar-Kays, Otis Redding and William Bell. Others will be named at a later date. The scholarships will be awarded by the Stax Music Academy based on financial need and merit.
In the months leading up to the COVID global pandemic, Concord, its friends, and extended family had already donated $450,000 to the Soulsville Foundation, providing critically needed funding for SMA students, instructors and programming. As a part of this scholarship fund, Concord and its partners (PULSE Music Group, Creative Titans, Hang Your Hat Music, Easy Eye Sound) will continue to extend their philanthropic efforts by potentially offering SMA participants workshops on A&R, Songwriting and Music Tech, remote internship programs, and an annual trip to its Nashville headquarters.
Concord Chairman Steve Smith and Concord CEO Scott Pascucci stated: “It’s been 60 years since Estelle Axton and Jim Stewart named their fledgling music company Stax Records. The Soulsville Foundation was inspired to create the Stax Music Academy some 40 years later. Now, during its 20th anniversary year, the Stax Music Academy can proudly say that its students enjoy a 100% college acceptance rate with more than two-thirds of those earning scholarships, underscoring that the legacy of Stax goes well beyond the music and its extraordinary artists. The Stax Music Academy gives its students a unique grounding in the Stax musical heritage while supporting their development as the next generation of leaders in the music industry. Concord is proud to invest in the future of these young people, ensuring that the cultural ideals of the original Stax remain a beacon in the global music business and the Memphis community where it all began.”
“The architects of Stax music, along with those of us that contributed to the Soul company’s prophetic history and unique culture, are grateful to Concord for their generous financial commitment to benefit the Stax Music Academy (SMA),” commented Deanie Parker, former Stax Executive and Founding/Retired President and CEO of the Soulsville Foundation. “Concord’s support of SMA mirrors that of Stax Records’ investment in us some 60 years ago, when Booker T. Jones, Carla Thomas, Steve Cropper, and Otis Redding were just budding artists. The Stax Music Academy is 20 years old this year and already their achievements are myriad. Concord Stax Scholarships ensure that SMA will continue to give us more, great Stax-like music to expand our catalog of memorable songs in the key of — Memphis Soul music.”
Soulsville Foundation President & CEO Richard Greenwald, added, “We are so deeply grateful to our friends at Concord for sharing our passion to not only preserve and promote the legacy of Stax Records, but also to embrace the present and help guide the future through the Stax Music Academy. Their commitment to establishing these new scholarships provides so much hope and opportunity for so many young music students that it will essentially change the trajectory of their lives as we prepare them to move forward with post-secondary education and thriving careers in the music industry.”
Concord is the independent, worldwide leader in the development, management and acquisition of sound recordings, music publishing and theatrical performance rights. Concord has offices in Nashville, Los Angeles, New York, London, Berlin and Miami and operates via three primary operating divisions:
CONCORD RECORDED MUSIC is comprised of five active labels across many musical genres: Concord Records, Fantasy Records, Fearless Records, Loma Vista Recordings and Rounder Records. Concord is also home to the #1 kids’ music brand, KIDZ BOP.
The company’s historical labels are managed by its Craft Recordings team, and include such storied imprints as Fania, Independiente, Milestone, Musart, Nitro, Pablo, Prestige, Riverside, Savoy, Specialty, Stax, Telarc, Varèse Sarabande, Vee-Jay and Wind-up. Concord’s master recording portfolio contains more than 260,000 active song recordings and includes no less than 284 GRAMMY® winners (representing over 6.5% of all the GRAMMYs® ever awarded) and over 400 gold, platinum, multi-platinum and diamond RIAA certifications across 215 titles.
CONCORD MUSIC PUBLISHING represents more than 400,000 copyrighted works by the world’s most celebrated songwriters, composers and lyricists. Spanning nearly two centuries of song, through a vast array of genres and territories, Concord Music Publishing also supports a diverse group of contemporary creators producing important and popular new songs and musical works. Concord Music Publishing is home to the world’s leading classical music publisher, Boosey & Hawkes, and operates exclusive joint ventures with top pop music publisher, Pulse Music Group and Hillary Lindsey’s Hang Your Hat Music.
CONCORD THEATRICALS is the world’s most significant theatrical company, comprising the catalogs of Rodgers & Hammerstein Theatricals, Samuel French, Tams-Witmark and The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection. Concord Theatricals is the only firm providing truly comprehensive services to the creators and producers of plays and musicals, including theatrical licensing, music publishing, script publishing, cast recording and first-class production.
Concord is a private company funded by long-term institutional capital and members of Concord’s management team. At the forefront of intellectual property valuation, acquisition and utilization, the Concord investment underscores the partners’ belief in the lasting and appreciating global value of superior original creative content.
ABOUT SOULSVILLE FOUNDATION
The Soulsville Foundation is the 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization that operates the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Stax Music Academy, and The Soulsville Charter School, all on a vibrant campus at the original site of Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee. Its mission is to perpetuate the soul of Stax Records by preserving its rich cultural legacy, educating youth to be prepared for life success, and inspiring future artists to achieve their dreams.
ABOUT STAX MUSIC ACADEMY
The Stax Music Academy is a premier afterschool and summer music institute that provides industry-centric music education combined with creative youth development programming. It is the only music institute in the world that focuses on the musical art form known as Southern Soul Music and The Memphis Sound created at Stax in the 1960s and 70s and how the evolution of that music can translate into the original music students are creating today.
ABOUT STAX RECORDS
Stax Records, now owned by Concord, was founded by Jim Stewart in 1957 in Memphis, Tennessee. It rose from a small, family-operated company to become one of the most influential record labels in the world, helping create “The Memphis Sound” and launching the careers of icons such as Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & the MGs, the Staple Singers, Sam & Dave, Rufus and Carla Thomas, the Bar-Kays, and dozens of other artists who helped change popular culture forever. In all, Stax placed 167 hit songs in the Top 100 in Pop and 243 hits in the Top 100 in R&B.