Soulsville Foundation teams up with Memphis Live to match master students with music masters. Staff | 6/3/2016, 12:06 p.m.
Soulsville Foundation teams up with Memphis Live to match master students with music masters.
Two-time Emmy Award winning violinist Damien Escobar, the inaugural artist in the Memphis Live-Soulsville Foundation music and cultural exchange series, does his thing at the Orpheum Theater’s Halloran Centre for Performing Arts and Education. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley) Photo by Tyrone P. Easley

A new partnership between the Soulsville Foundation and Cynthia Murrell’s Memphis Live – an entertainment and concert promotion company – brought award-winning violinist Damien Escobar and a set of building-block experiences to Memphis last week.

Escobar, a two-time Emmy Award winner, rocked the Orpheum Theater’s Halloran Centre for Performing Arts and Education on May 18th. The next day, he engaged in a private master class with students of the Stax Music Academy and The Soulsville Charter School’s strings class.

It was the new partnership’s first musical and cultural exchange. For Escobar, it was another opportunity to detail the lesson-packed story about his multi-million-dollar teenage career with his brother in the group Nuttin’ But Stringz, the demise of that career, and his emergence as a successful solo artist in recent years.

Escobar also came bearing a special gift. Courtesy of Amro Music, he presented a new violin to the master class, which also included Amro Music students.

Murrell, a Memphis real estate broker, has also been in the music promotion business for several years. She played a primary role in bringing Motown R & B artist Kem to Memphis before he signed with a record label and became a staple in rotation on the radio.

The connection to Stax was a natural,” said Murrell.

“I just woke up one morning with this idea that I needed to give back to the community and I thought of the students at Soulsville. That idea took legs and we ran to Stax to help preserve that legacy by working with young people,” said Murrell.

“The more I’ve been working on this, the more I have learned that so many other artists have been influenced by Stax, they just love to come and give back too.”

Calvin Stovall, CEO of the Soulsville Foundation, said, “This new partnership with Cynthia and Memphis Live has so much potential that it might prove to be life-changing not only for our students, but also for the artists themselves. This is a major partnership that is going to generate such inspiring experiences for all involved, including the city of Memphis and in particular the local music community.”

Other artists Murrell has lined up include female bass player and singer Nik West, whose credits include work with Prince, Dave Stewart of Eurhythmics fame and Glee. West, who most recently has made special guest appearances on “American Idol,” will be at the Soulsville Foundation for a master class on August 24 before an August 25th show at the Halloran Centre.

In November (with details to be announced), the music and cultural exchange will feature Paris Toon and Mother’s Favorite Child.

Memphis Live and the visiting artists will also make financial contributions to the Soulsville Foundation.