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Monday, April 28, 2003

Museum stirs up joy, pride among those who lived Stax legend

The Commercial Appeal, April 28, 2003
By Pamela Perkins

Al Bell couldn't put his finger on the right word, Novella Smith-Arnold was speechless, and Steve Cropper was touched after touring the Stax Museum of American Soul Music on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Hi Records legend Al Green, soul legend Percy Sledge and rapper Chuck D have joined the list of performers to celebrate the museum's grand opening this week.

Bell, Smith-Arnold and Cropper were among invited guests who viewed the museum and its first exhibit by renowned photographer Ernest Withers.

Bell, the label's former co-owner, said the museum made him feel joyful. But, he added, "there's another feeling I can't explain. I'm so happy and proud . . . the facility is here."

Outreach ministry chaplain and former Stax production chief Smith-Arnold said she was "speechless," but found the words to say, "I am so pleased."

And Cropper said the facility impressed him more than the memorabilia: "The memories are already in my mind."

But he was touched seeing his old Stax friends together again in the form of video - especially in the introductory video in which they explain how they were like "family."

Cropper and his band mates from Booker T. & the MG's will perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the "Soul Comes Home" concert at the Orpheum, which will include guest artists Green, Sledge, Chuck D and Michael McDonald, recently added to the lineup.

The string of performers that night also includes Isaac Hayes, the Mar-Keys (the Memphis Horns), Little Milton, Mavis Staples, The Bar-Kays, Ann Peebles, Jimmie Vaughan, Wilson Pickett and Solomon Burke. Luther Vandross was scheduled to perform until he recently suffered a stroke.

It is one of three concerts this week celebrating the museum's grand opening.

Little Milton also will join Big Star, Mable John and Linda Lyndell at the "Soul n' Roll" concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Gibson Guitar Lounge. (The Bar-Kays' performance was moved from that show to the "Soul Comes Home" show Wednesday.)

And on Thursday, Stax Music Academy students, The Temprees and Floyd Taylor, in a tribute to his father, the late Johnnie Taylor, will perform at the re-release of the Wattstax concert movie at 7:30 p.m. at the Orpheum.

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