[It rained. You may have noticed. The Grand Finale Concert will be on Wednesday, July 2nd, at the Shell.
I've spent the past week sort-of embedded in the Stax Music Academy as the Summer SNAP!
season comes to a close. That program brings 60 kids together and runs them through the rigors of being a professional musician. They perform, they write, record, and produce under the tutelage of established master like Steve Cropper and Bettye Crutcher.
Crutcher wrote "Who's Making Love ..." — Johnnie Taylor's breakout hit — and had her work recorded by the Staple Singers, Joan Baez, Delaney & Bonnie. See the playlist below. She's been teaching a songwriting course, and the students will perform a new song of hers on Sunday, June 29th, the Stax Music Academy Grand Finale Concert at the Levitt Shell
“It has been very gratifying to come back to the home of Stax Records and work with this new generation of soul music musicians," Crutcher says. "They have so much energy and talent and they absorb so much that it reminds me of what it was like back in the day at Stax when we were all just learning from each other and supporting each other.”
Yesterday, I sat in on a workshop in which Steve Cropper led four young guitar players and me through some of his most iconic parts. He talked of the music that led him to play his classic parts, of Ben Branch and the 5 Royales. We traded solos over changes, which was terrifying until you pulled it off. Then it was one of the most rewarding things ever. And that's what music teaches you: how to use your skills to master a difficult and sometimes scary task. These kids have done just that all summer and deserve the adulation they'll receive Sunday night at the Shell.