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Country SoulMaking Music and Making Race in the American South$
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Charles L. Hughes

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469622439

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469622439.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 17 June 2021

Selling Soul

Selling Soul

Black Music and Black Power in Memphis

(p.80) Three Selling Soul
Country Soul

Charles L. Hughes

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter explores the role of Memphis Sound as a both a symbol and an instrument of the Black Power Movement. It highlights Stax Records, who, under the leadership of Al Bell, amplified the musical “blackness” of its recordings. The studio used nationalist rhetoric in its advertisements and public statements, and allied with African American political organizations in order to force the issue of racial disparity. This unfortunately angered some of the label's white staff members and challenged Stax's image as a site of integration. However, the studio never abandoned the integrationist discourse of the Memphis Sound, nor did they stop using white musicians. The chapter mentions the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, an all-white band, whose career serves as an illustration of how the story of Stax records in these years reveals the multifaceted role of Black Power politics in soul music, the country-soul triangle, and the U.S. recording industry.

Keywords:   Memphis Sound, Black Power Movement, Stax Records, Al Bell, musical blackness, racial disparity, integration, Muscle Shoals Rhythm section, Black Power politics

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