Soul music is generally defined as a mash-up of gospel and R&B, and Memphis is one of the soul music capitals of the U.S. While Motown was creating a sonic identity as “Hitsville USA” with its brand of Northern Soul, Memphis was cultivating a reputation as "Soulsville" with its own signature sound. Here, Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton started the Stax Record Company in an old South Memphis movie theatre, and the label went on to record legends including Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas, The Staple Singers and others. Only a few blocks away at Royal Studios, legendary record producer Willie Mitchell produced soul icons including Al Green, Otis Clay, Ann Peebles and the Hi Rhythm section on the Hi Records label.
WHERE TO GO NEXT
All points of interest below are mapped from the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, just steps from the bollards and FedExForum.
Walk 4 minutes
Withers Collection Museum & Gallery
Head just around the corner to the Withers Collection Museum and Gallery on Beale. Here you’ll see the iconic photography of Dr. Ernest Withers. While best known for chronicling the U.S. civil rights movement, Withers also served as the house photographer for Stax Records. Eye for images of Isaac Hayes and other soul stars.
Drive 9 minutes
Drive 9 minutes
Soulsville is the birthplace of the Memphis Sound. On the site of Stax Records, you’ll find the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and Stax Academy. Nearby, dine at the historic Four Way Grill, once frequented by Stax artists. And drive by Royal Studios, where Al Green and Ann Peebles cut on Hi Records, and hits are still being recorded today.
Explore the people, stories and places behind the bollard art outside FedExForum. Use this slider to sneak a peek at everything soul-, funk- and R&B-related, from the art itself to local points of interest.