The Tri-State Defender, Thursday, December 11, 2008
By Myron Mayes
“Go Down, Moses” is more than a concert
The SNAP After School Winter Concert is an annual event presented by the students of the Stax Music Academy and is the first event of the 2008-09 Concert Series presented by Arts Memphis.
So, what can you expect to experience during this event? Well, strap in for a “musical multi-part journey” though Hayes’ life and career, as described by Stax Music Academy Artistic Director Ashley Davis.
“Go Down, Moses” is more than a concert-it’s a musical celebration of Isaac’s life and his truly unforgettable spirit, says Kerry Hayes, marketing manager for education for the Soulsville Foundation, the non-profit parent organization of the Stax Music Academy.
“The show will include selections from all phases of Isaac’s career, from his time as a songwriter with the legendary David Porter to his career as a revolutionary solo artist and film scorer.”
Born Isaac Lee Hayes Jr. in 1942 in Covington, Tenn., Hayes, an award-winning singer-songwriter, musician and composer was one of the driving forces of the Stax Record label following the death of its premier artist Otis Redding. In addition to building a dynamic career of his own, Hayes – along with writing and producing partner Porter – was also responsible for penning and producing hits for other Stax artists such as Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, the Soul Children and as the Emotions.
Hayes is probably most remembered for his work on the 1971 motion picture “Shaft” in which he served as the film’s score composer. He also earned the Academy Award for Best Original Song for his hit, “Theme from Shaft,” making him the first African American to ever receive an Oscar in a non-acting category.
His work also earned him a Golden Globe for Best Original Score as well as Grammy Awards for Best Instrumental Arrangement and Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special.
Hayes was a dedicated supporter of the Stax Music Academy. Founded in 2000, the Academy was created to meet the educational and mentoring needs of Memphis youth through music and performance.
Today, it serves several hundred students in its two-story, state-of-the-art learning facility located next to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.
The Academy is supported by a combination of grants, corporate sponsorships and admission revenue from the Stax Museum. Student tuition accounts for less than 7 percent of its total revenue.
“Isaac will be remembered forever not only because of his incredible music and creativity, but because of how much he cared about his community- particularly young people.
That is why Isaac was one of the earliest and strongest supporters of the Soulsville dream and the Stax Music Academy,” says Hayes.
“He realized that right now we are giving young people in this city many of the same opportunities and benefits that Stax Records gave him in the 1960’s and 70’s. Music, opportunity, friendship, and personal growth are all intertwined-that’s the real Stax legacy. Isaac was living proof of this, and that’s the legacy that we are trying to perpetuate through our programs for Memphis youth. Although we are so sad that Isaac is no longer with us, it is an honor for our students to pay tribute to him with this performance.”
Hayes died at his home in Memphis on Aug. 10. During this event the Soulsville Foundation is planning to present Hayes’ family with the Soul Circle Award, which recognizes an individual who has dedicated his or her life to the pursuit of music and understands the power that it holds for young people. The inaugural award is being given posthumously to Hayes as a token of appreciation for his service to Memphis and young people worldwide.
(For more information, contact the Stax Music Academy at 901-946-2535, ext. 334 or visit StaxMusicAcademy.org.)