Courtesy Stax Museum of American Soul Music
Classic singles from the heyday of soul music at Stax
We're seeing a lot of ways to honor the history of Memphis in this, its 200th year, but few are as fun as the Memphis biSOULtennial Countdown
, sponsored by the Stax Museum of American Soul Music
. It began with a special listening event and discussion at Crosstown Arts
last month, where panelists Dr. Charles Hughes (Rhodes College), DJ Eddie Hankins (WEVL-FM), Tonya Dyson (Memphis Slim House), Kameron Whalum (Stax Music Academy artist in residence), and Jared Boyd ("The Daily Memphian") discussed two selections from their personal top ten Memphis soul tracks from 1957-75.
Not content to leave it at that, Stax opened up an online ballot
so everyone can pick their own favorites from that period. Anyone who wishes to voice their choice can still do so before June 30th. To that end, Stax created a 200-song playlist on Spotify
to review all the ballot selections, which may be the greatest outcome of the entire undertaking. Covering songs from nearly every major artist, studio and label from that era, it's a must-listen for any fan of classic soul. Because they limit every artist to only five songs, mega-hits by the likes of Al Green, Isaac Hayes, or Otis Redding sit alongside lesser known gems by the Premiers, Wendy Rene, or the Astors.
Yes, your faithful correspondent has voted, and, in the interest of encouraging all readers to do the same, I post my ballot below. Feel free to comment on my selections below, or simply go vote for your favorites and be heard! The embarrassment of riches to choose from made this a near-impossible task, but I hunkered down and tried to select the best of the best. It was painful to bypass some personal favorites, like "Candy" by the Astors, or the Premiers' "Make It Me," but ultimately I had to ask myself: "Is this really better than 'Love and Happiness'?" Fortunately, there's even a spot to write in your own favorite if it's not listed.
Try it yourself, and revel in the knowledge that we live in a land littered with such gems. Then be sure to visit the Levitt Shell on Saturday, June 29th, to hear the young players from the Stax Music Academy bare their musical souls, bringing many of these classics (and some originals) to life before your very eyes and ears.