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Funk, R&B and soul icons, Bar-Kays, celebrate 50 years by giving back

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The Bar-Kays are donating a portion of the proceeds raised during their 50-year celebration to support their "fab-five charities."

Throughout 2014, the iconic band will observe their golden anniversary in the music business. The year-long observation will culminate with the Bar-Kays 50th Anniversary Celebration Gala Dec. 4 at the Cook Convention Center and Canon Center of the Performing Arts.

During the gala, a special presentation will be made to what that the Bar-Kays call their "fab-five charities" – the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis, United Way of the Midsouth, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Stax Music Academy and the Allen Jones/Marjorie Barringer/Bar-Kays Scholarship Fund.

STAX MUSEUM-03_13_2014_174"This is probably the most important thing that we have done in our career, to give back," said James Alexander, founder and bass player, at a press conference Thursday at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, they announced

Representatives from each charity were present at the press conference. Also on hand were members of the Bar- Kays 50th Anniversary committee and friends the Memphis corporate, public sector and non-profit communities.

STAX MUSEUM-03_13_2014_272"These charities are near and dear to our hearts for a number of reasons and we have supported them over the years and will continue to," said Larry Dodson, lead vocalist of the band.

For five decades, The Bar-Kays have delighted audiences across the world with their majestic moves and funkadelic sound. They've taken their funk to the White House for the President and his guests, to Iraq for U.S troops and they are showing no signs of slowing down. Their music career includes five gold albums, one platinum and more than 20 top ten singles and albums.

The Bar-Kays' remarkable career has been documented in music institutions such as the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where exhibits can be found of their iconic stage garb and musical equipment. The Stax-inspired group was also inducted into the 2013 Memphis Music Hall of Fame.

Conceived in 1964, originating as the Stax Records' house band in 1966, the Bar-Kays were selected by Otis Redding as his touring band. After the1967 plane crash that killed Redding and several members, Alexander reformed the band with Dodson singing lead and continued on as he felt the band would have wanted him to.

Those who have seen the band perform over the years know they love "burning it up live."

"Our stage show was important," said Alexander. "However, we came up in an era where you didn't need a record to work. If you had a great show you could work."

A powerhouse of funk, R&B and soul music, they continue to release new music that crosses generations, such s their 2012 hit, "Grown Folks," which reached the top ten on Billboard's Adult R&B charts. It was produced by Alexander's son, award-winning rapper and record producer, Phalon "Jazze Pha" Alexander, who was named after deceased band-member Phalon Jones.

"James and I are old pros but our band is very youthful," said Dodson, reflecting on the Bar- Kays recent successes. "As a result, we have always been able to bridge the gap between old and new and reach many people."

Their latest single "Up and Down" was written by Grammy nominated songwriter and producer, Alvin Garrett, who is credited for writing the hit single, "I'd Rather Have a Love" for the recording artist Joe. Their new album is planned for release in August 2014.

Speakers at the Bar-Kays 50th Anniversary Celebration Gala press conference were Kevin Kane, president and CEO of Memphis Visitors & Convention Bureau; songwriter and producer David Porter, chairman, president and founder of Consortium MMT; Deanie Parker, president and CEO of South Memphis Music, Inc.; Kurt "KC" Clayton of the Memphis & Shelby County Music Commission; and Dean Deyo, president of the Memphis Music Foundation.

Find out more details about how to take part in the celebration and charitable giving at www.thebar-kays.com.

(For more information about the Bar-Kays, visit www.thebar-kays.com and follow them on Facebook (facebook.com/barkaysmusic) and Twitter (@Barkays).)

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