Memphis continued to gain steam in these genres through the 1960s, but when the 1970s spurred a revolution of dance music and electronic means of instrumentation, Memphis artists caught on and joined a musical movement that would affect music throughout the world and in Memphis to this day.
Artists Anita Ward (singer known for her disco hit “Ring My Bell”), Dexter Haygood (frontman of glam rock/soul band Xavion, known for MTV video hit “Eat Your Heart Out”), Perry Michael Allen (songwriter and producer who was influential in synthesized soul as member of Kilo), and Larry Dodson (vocalist in The Bar-Kays and the Temprees) are just a few Memphis artists who were involved in this era of Memphis music, which has often been overlooked or under-recognized by fans and critics alike.
Just in time for Black Music Month, We Are Memphis celebrates these artists’ and others’ contributions to this time in musical history by hosting “The Lost Generation,” an online panel discussion led by local hip-hop musician and journalist Jared “Jay B” Boyd.
“These artists have done so much good work, and I want to honor them,” says Boyd. “I thought this was the best way to tell their stories and that this would be a cool way to connect with them and show them that I care about their story and that I’m very much interested in who they are and what they’ve done.”
Boyd’s interest in Memphis music started in college when he began collecting and spinning records after the death of his cousin Andrew Love, saxophone player for The Memphis Horns.
“I started collecting records to find all the records he played on,” says Boyd. “I built up quite the collection of Memphis records.”
This became the impetus for Boyd’s disc jockeying career, and since then, he has continued to regularly honor Memphis music during his DJ sets at venues like Eight & Sand at Central Station Hotel.
“My DJing starts with Memphis music and pretty much ends with Memphis music,” says Boyd. “I think I’ll probably continue to collect music from all other places, but at the end of the day, Memphis music is what fuels my interest in records.”
According to Boyd, much of the uniqueness of what we hear and see in Memphis music and culture is passed down by generations of different heritages and brought together in the melting pot of our city.
“I definitely think that there’s something about the confluence of energies and expectations and ideals that flow through this town, maybe particularly because of the river and where we are geographically,” says Boyd. “There’s just the right mix of people and their ideas and their cultures. Being that many of them fit together in this puzzle so seamlessly, we can kind of learn from one another and pick up on cues from one another. And I really think that it’s important to note that during Black Music Month, because a lot of that comes from the black music heritage.”
Boyd adds that it’s important to honor all genres Memphis musicians of all backgrounds have been a part of, whether that be soul, funk, punk, metal, or glam rock.
“When we talk about Memphis music, we always sort of go back to this era of soul of the ’60s and early ’70s, when that’s just not necessarily the only important era of music,” he says. “What we’re doing right now matters to someone 20, 30, 40 years from now. And so we have to make sure that we cover all these histories.”
Telling stories of unsung heroes who have had lasting impacts on musical history is important to Boyd, and he says that he is thankful to be able to do so in his own way.
“I’m grateful that We Are Memphis reached out for this particular project,” says Boyd. “I think I’m celebrating black music all year ’round, every day when I wake up. So whether or not they would have reached out, I’d still be celebrating black music and celebrating these artists.”
The Lost Generation: Panel Conversation with Jared ‘Jay B’ Boyd, follow We Are Memphis on Facebook to view the live video, Thursday, June 18th, 7-8 p.m., free.