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Stax Music Academy

The Stax Music Academy (SMA) is the Soulsville Foundation’s premier after-school and summer music institute that provides intensive, industry-centric music education combined with unique performance opportunities and creative youth development programming.

In operation for more than two decades, SMA is the only music institute in the world that focuses on the legacy of Stax Records and the Memphis Sound. SMA’s staff of professional musicians incorporates this legacy into its instrumental and vocal music lessons, songwriting, music business, production and sound engineering, videography, choreography, music theory classes, and other aspects of music education.

Our curriculum is designed to ensure that students graduate from high school prepared for independence and to contribute to a global society. We support students to earn music scholarships for college fees. Since 2008 every senior enrolled in SMA has been accepted to college. More than 70% of our graduates each year gain multiple music-related scholarship offers. We assist students in selecting and applying to college or university based on the social, geographical, and economic fit, alongside navigating auditions, financial aid and scholarships.

Through the fundraising efforts of the Soulsville Foundation, SMA offers heavily discounted tuition and merit- and financial need-based scholarships to the majority of its students so that no young person is ever denied inclusion for lack of the ability to pay.

SMA educates and mentors approximately 100 6th-12th grade students in its school-year After School Program and approximately 100 6th-12th grade students in its Summer Music Experience. Students enroll by auditioning, but SMA does offer beginner lessons to students as young as 5th grade. The program is a home for any and all students with an interest in music regardless of where they fall along the musical spectrum.

SMA staff connects with area business and music professionals to offer students and alumni job placement opportunities. More than 20 opportunities are available each year guaranteeing students financial compensation and real world experience.

Equally important to the music education it offers, Stax Music Academy incorporates creative youth development and mental wellness support into the entire SMA experience. Dedicated staff and contracted mental health professionals provide mentorship, counseling, and college preparedness assistance designed to help students reach their full potential. The result is accelerated social and emotional growth and heightened improvement in self-image, academic self-efficacy, leadership, entrepreneurship, and critical thinking skills.

SMA fills a vital need in the current lack of afterschool programs and dearth of music education in public schools.

SMA also works diligently with our graduates. In addition to many of them being included in 926, the Stax Music Academy Alumni Band, these services include assistance evaluating alternatives to achieving career success, and assisting with unanticipated obstacles during the path to career. We also actively provide opportunities for alumni students to remain connected and engaged through pursuing other post-secondary pathways that will lead to gainful employment and success as socially conscious adults.