Must Be Memphis: Soulsville USA Festival 2019 

Must Be Memphis: Soulsville USA Festival 2019 

Ed. Note: Get out to the FREE Souslville USA Festival this Saturday, October 19, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. by the Stax Museum at College and McLemore: live music, 12 food trucks, 40 vendors, kids' activities, and free admission to the museum. Aisling has all the rest of the details on this flagship Memphis festival. 

It just keeps getting better! I’m talking about Saturday’s annual Soulsville USA Festival, now in its fifth year. This blowout party, attended by thousands of Memphians, features soul, jazz, trap gospel, and hip hop artists on three stages, plus 40 vendors, including 12 food trucks to refuel you after all that jamming. 

The festival was founded in 2015 by Tonya Dyson, along with six teenage interns and a neighborhood advisory committee. What has made this event such a success?

“The neighborhood and its reception and ownership of the event itself! It feels like a huge family reunion, regardless if you’re actually from the neighborhood or not,” Dyson said. 

Soulsville is the place where black and white musicians came together to jam at STAX Recording Studios during a time of serious racial strife in the South, breaking down social barriers and teaching the world to groove together.

Unless otherwise stated, all photos by Malik Tha Martian, courtesy of Soulsville USA and used with permission.

The neighborhood is hallowed ground for music lovers. “634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.)" is a song written by Memphians Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper, recorded by Wilson Pickett and Tina Turner. Artists like Otis Redding, Mavis Staples, and Sam & Dave made music here, while legends like Booker T. Jones, David Porter and Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire grew up in Soulsville. The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, was born to a preacher in a shotgun house at 406 Lucy, near McLemore. 

So, this Saturday, let’s continue that long tradition of music bringing us together. Bring your soul and your comfiest dancing shoes to the corner of College and McLemore in South Memphis this Saturday, October 19, from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for the 2019 Soulsville USA Festival to enjoy some stellar live music. This year’s lineup includes the Sensational Barnes Brothers, Emi Secrest, Porcelan, Jerome Chism, Kashief, The Jazz Brothers, and, of course, the talented kids of STAX Music Academy.

One of the festival’s goals is to educate Memphians about those who’ve contributed to the city’s soulful history and introduce them to those contributing to its future. So, in addition to the impressive lineup of artists, the family friendly festival will feature a host of interactive and educational activities, as well as games for kids of all ages, provided by South Memphis nonprofit Knowledge Quest. 

Not only is festival admission free -- attendees receive FREE entry to the acclaimed STAX Museum of American Soul Music, which normally costs $13 for adults and $10 for kids.

Visited by music fans from around the world, the STAX Museum tells the story of one of the nation’s most influential music labels and holds a one-of-a-kind collection that includes Isaac Hayes superfly custom-made Cadillac Eldorado with 24-carat gold exterior trim — part of his 1972 record deal.

You and your peeps can get down on the museum’s dance floor, inspired by the dancers in classic Soul Train episodes playing on surrounding screens. 

See you Saturday in Soulsville! 

Go There:

2019 Soulsville USA Festival
Saturday, October 19, 2019

11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Soulsville USA District at College and McLemore, South Memphis

Festival admission is free. Expect a crowd and consider getting yourself there by public transit, bike, carpool, Lyft, or your own two feet. The weather forecast is looking great, with sunshine and a high of 75 degrees. 

About the Author

Aisling Maki is a freelance writer, editor, and public and media relations specialist with awards from The Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists and Public Relations Society of America, as well as several awards for fiction writing. Her work has appeared in publications in more than 20 countries. You can usually find her cheering on the Grizzlies, doing outdoorsy things, or traveling with her daughter, Brídín. They live in Cooper-Young with a dog, a guinea pig and a pair of pet mice.

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