Toni Green is a living proof that the soul of Memphis music still travels well.
In Poretta Terme, Italy, excitement already is mounting for the 27th Porretta Soul Festival, which will be a tribute to Otis Redding. The festival will take place July 17-20 in Rufus Thomas Park.
Green, who has been performing at the festival since 2005, graces the cover of the poster promoting the festival for the first time. She recalls crying for a week after getting that news.
"It's still blowing my mind," said Green. "To have me on the cover was overwhelming."
Green is no stranger to music or Europe. Over the course of her musical career, she has had the opportunity to open up for artists such as the Bar-Kays, the S.O.S. Band, and Con-funk-shun, and has previously performed in France.
"People don't get the opportunity to even see the thousands of people whom I play for over there...it's just something to behold," Green said.
For Green, Italy provides an embracing environment that stands apart from her other experiences.
"Italy is such a warm, wonderful place of people who love our music, know our music better than we do, and they embrace us. The embracing part is they love people like Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas, James Carr, James Govan. They have embraced our music for years. They know more about our history, who our moms and dads were. They seem to embrace us more than they do in the United States and what a pity. We don't get the same kind of embracing over here," said Green.
"Even though Beale Street plays our music, Beale Street doesn't appreciate us like they do. We've become a tourist thing for here, but over there, we've become so embraced, they know who you are."
In addition to Green, the Porretta Soul Festival will also feature artists such as Muscle Shoals All Star Band, Bonnie Bramlet, Jimmy "Wet Willie" Hall, Donnie Fritts, Carla "Kozmic Mama" Russell, Jerry Jones & Chilly Bill Rankin, Vaneese Thomas, Charles "Wigg" Walker, Guitar Shorty, Frank Bey and Anthony Paule Band, and Osaka Monaurail.