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Grit. Grind. Groove.

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger  | Photos by Don Perry

Staxtacular 2018 was a star-studded success with former Grizzlies legend Shane Battier and his wife, Heidi, returning to Memphis to lend their support to the largest fundraiser of the year for Stax Music Academy (SMA). “We were thrilled to be here to honor an event that we helped start 13 years ago,” said Battier. 

Guests made their way to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music where food stations served up offerings from Corky’s, Nothing Bundt Cakes and Simply Delicious Catering. BBQ Tinis were a big favorite, along with a Macaroni and Cheese station. The tasty comfort food was paired with cocktails and specialty drinks from Old Dominick Distillery, as well as Staxtacular’s most famous beverage, Shaft on Draft. 

But the thing that seemed to warm everyone’s heart was the reason for the celebration. Tim Sampson, communications director for the Soulsville Foundation, explained, “Our guests share our passion about music and are interested in helping our youth improve their musical craft as they chart their paths towards college. Our students at the SMA come from across the city and many are potentially at-risk kids. They come here after school and during the summer and they work hard. As they perform around town, people see the end product of their support. Our students have not only performed in Memphis, but also at the Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and on the National Mall for the opening of the Smithsonian’s African American Museum. They have traveled to Australia, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. Our program opens doors for them.” 

“Stax Music Academy is truly an amazing Memphis institution,” said music legend David Porter.

The Grizzlies’ own Mario Chalmers and Paije Speights were the co-hosts for this year’s sold-out party, presented by SunTrust. People toured the museum where luminaries like Booker T and the MG’s, the Mar Keys and William Bell once held court. Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by students of the Stax Music Academy, and the Stax Music Academy Alumni Band. The silent mobile-bid auction featured Grizzlies memorabilia and one-of-a kind music items, like a guitar autographed by Steve Cropper.

“Since its inception, Staxtacular has raised over $1 million dollars,” exclaimed Sampson. “We are humbled by the support we receive from the City of Memphis, The Grizzlies, and people who love our kids.” 

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