In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Stax Music Academy, Concord — which owns the legendary soul label Stax Records — 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. According to the announcement, 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 aims to inspire 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, according to the announcement. Since its founding in 2000, SMA has fostered and coached over 4,000 students in music theory, songwriting and the basics of the music business to assure that each young artist has the necessary knowledge to earn music scholarships to college and understands how to make a living in music. 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 announcement states
Occasionally, SMA students have the honor of performing alongside artists at events such as Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons at the Biden Presidential Inauguration TV Special “Celebrating America.”
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, 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.