Behind the Headlines – February 2, 2018

Behind the Headlines – February 2, 2018


– (female announcer)
Production funding for Behind The Headlines is made possible in part by: the WKNO Production Fund, the WKNO Endowment Fund, and by viewers like you.
Thank you. – Stax, Soulsville, and more tonight on
Behind The Headlines. [dramatic orchestral music] I’m Eric Barnes, publisher
of the Memphis Daily News. Thanks for joining us. I am joined tonight
by Richard Greenwald, president/CEO of the
Soulsville Foundation. Thanks for being here. – Thank you having me. – And Bill Dries, senior reporter for
the Memphis Daily News. For people who don’t know, and I, sometimes, when we
talked before the show, get confused about
all the components. Give us the rundown
on what Soulsville is. It is the Stax Museum,
there is a charter school, but there’s more and
more of a mission beyond those
individual components. – Yeah, well, Soulsville USA
and the Soulsville Foundation operate three components, and really have a
fourth element as well. I think what a lot
of Memphians know is the Stax Museum of
American Soul Music. It is a Memphis
treasure and gem, and people come from
all over the world to experience this attraction. We also have a
Stax Music Academy, which is a very
high-quality music academy for middle school and
high school students. As well, we have
a charter school, which is a sixth through
twelfth grade charter school, college prep organization or school for
people in our community. We have three entities. The entity I spoke
about first, the museum, is this great attraction and
economic driver in the city, but it’s also more
than an attraction. It is a place where we serve
youth in our community, where we hold events for
people in the community, where we have academics
and scholars come and study not only the cultural
and rich history of what happened in Memphis
in the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s, what happened in the
music industry as well. And a lot of
programming at night. It’s much more than
just an attraction. – Some basics, I
mean, for people. How many visitors come through? – We have about 60,000
visitors come through. – Most of those
from out of town? – About 2/3 from out of town. We would love more
Memphians to come and explore this hometown. – For people who don’t
know, where is Soulsville? ‘Cause it’s the
campus, as it were. Where is it located? – McLemore and College Streets
right in South Memphis, really at the edge of Midtown. – The history, let’s also talk, we’ll go through the
components a little more and talk a bunch
about the school, but also, your involvement
with the community, with the area, with
other institutions. In the past we’ve had the head
of LeMoyne-Owen College on, there’s a lot going
on in that area that you all try to
connect with as well. – There really is, Eric. The three institutions
for sure to mention, the Soulsville Foundation
and our campus, which is really about
a six-acre campus and $30 million in assets. It’s really a premier
setting in Memphis. We’re contiguous with
LeMoyne-Owen College, this 200-year old
or 160-year-old historically black college. Across the street is a new
development called One Family that Tom Shadyac is driving, and it’s gonna be
a movie studio, a climbing gym, a
pay-as-you-go restaurant. And then, behind his endeavor is another
elementary school that closed, Stafford Elementary, that also will be revitalized into a new elementary
charter school. So there’s a lot going on– – Under your umbrella? Or no, a separate
charter school. – We’ll be connected, in a way, but it’s a separate charter
school called Delta Prep. There’s also Cummings
Elementary around the corner, Chandler Park. There’s a lot going on in the
Soulsville USA neighborhood. – (Eric)
All right, let’s go to Bill. – In terms of these different parts, the three entities that
are on the campus now. As I understand it, the foundation came
before the museum, or the Stax Academy
came before the museum. – Right, and I think that’s an
important symbolic point, that while the museum is the driver of everything over
at the Soulsville Foundation in Soulsville, we’re all about the
next generation. We’re all about legacy, we’re all about, what can
we do for communities. The reason Stax Music
Academy started first was because we wanted to
serve youth in our community. It is a very high-quality, fun youth development program, and music is at
the center of it. – Does the academy and
the charter school, do they intersect? Do you have the same
students at those? – About a third of the
students in the music academy are also students in
the charter school, and so we certainly share
between the two groups space all day long, and some
teaching, and some supports, including a lot
of health supports that we run through
all the children whether that’s during the day or in the afterschool
or summer programming. But about a third of
the students come, any student in Memphis can apply for and be a part
of the Stax Music Academy, and I think people are
confused about that. So, 2/3 of the children
in the music academy are not in the charter school. – All right. And does what is going
to happen with Stafford, does that involve different
grades than you have? – It will be,
it will be a K through 5, really targeting, pardon me, targeting people in the
South Memphis neighborhood, and hopefully be a feeder
into our charter school. – You also have the what folks locally call
the Memphis Slim House, which is just across
College Street. Do you have students
who graduate and then come into
the Memphis Slim House to cut some demos, do some
professional stuff over there? – Not only do they graduate
and go into the music industry, but they do it while they’re
in the music academy. Particularly in
the summer program, we will go to the Slim House and learn engineering
and production, and we’ll write music
and record music. It’s a component of what we do, both during your time at SMA or in the Soulsville
charter school and when you graduate. Lauryen Kirby, one
of our SMA graduates, is cutting an album
in Memphis right now, and has joined our
board of directors. We have a lot of
people who’ve graduated who are doing well
in the music industry who are recording
here in Memphis. But let me just emphasize,
we’re not about, it’s great if we produce stars and people who can succeed
in the music industry. This is about providing quality youth
development programming and education for children. – Because a student who comes
to the Stax Academy for Music may branch off in
some other direction. They may see something
else that appeals to them as a result of that experience. – That’s exactly right. Engineering, production,
just organization. When you’re in our program and when you’re in any good
youth development program, grades go up, emphasis on college or
post-secondary pathways happen for you because we’re
organized around those things. So, yeah, children end up
in all sorts of things. I just wanna say something
about the Slim House. There are tons of
famous musicians, as you know very well, that come from Memphis and
just that neighborhood alone. It is like music
and artistic genius was contagious in South Memphis. There are elements
and examples of that all throughout the neighborhood. Aretha Franklin’s
house is not far away. Slim House, Maurice
White’s house, others. – You mention the
Aretha Franklin house. Do you have any idea
where that stands? Are you all involved
with the preservation or the future of that, or just kinda
bystanders about that? – We’ve been included
in conversations that the city has had around their intentions
for that house, and LeMoyne-Owen
College, CEC and others. We are just trying to
be good participants in those conversations. – Let’s come back
to the academy. About how many kids go through
the academy in a given year? – About 200. – About 200 through the academy. And am I right that part of
the mission is at-risk kids, is that right? Or is that just a portion of the number of kids who
come through the academy are at, quote, “At-risk?” And what does that
mean, if that’s true? – At-risk means you’re in a
neighborhood of high poverty or somebody in your family
has been incarcerated or has some kind of situation where they’re in an institution. High-risk means that
you have already been in an institution. Maybe you have been in the
juvenile justice system or something has happened to
you in your life along the way. Yes, a lot of children in
all the schools in Memphis would be in that category
of at-risk or high-risk. That’s not how we look at kids. We look at kids as kids. You’re a sixth grader,
you’re an eighth grader, you’re a ninth grader. But we do recognize
that Memphis has a 44% poverty rate for children, and high unemployment, in some of the neighborhoods
where people come to our school. And so, we do address those
issues that come along with being in those
kind of neighborhoods. – I’m trying to
keep distinguishing, we’ll switch back over
to the charter school. The charter school, you all put virtually
all your kids who graduated from
the high school. The charter school goes,
what, 6 through 12? – (Richard)
Correct. – Virtually all, if not all, go into two and four year colleges or some kind of
post-secondary education, is that right? – That’s right. I mean, everybody who makes
it through the charter school will end up either in, I think what you’re quoting is everybody who applies to
a college does get accepted. That is an outstanding figure
and an important statistic. What’s really more important
is that we’re really working, the entire time you’re
in a high school of what you’re gonna
do when you graduate. We stay with kids
during the summer. There’s summer growth programs. There’s all sorts of
supports around children during their four
years in high school. To people, everybody does move
into some kind of pathway. Many go into two to four-year
college experiences, but other do other
post-secondary pathways. We are emphasizing now
both in our charter school and the music academy to do more around
alumni support, because people are
really vulnerable, still. Between 18 and 24, you’re
still changing and growing, and you need supports as
you move out into the world. – Let’s back up a little bit. Part of the reason
we’re having you on, we tried to do something
for the holidays. You started in at
Soulsville in the summer, and before that,
you’re from Memphis, but you’ve been in New York
and Philadelphia for the last 30 years, or
something like that. But doing what kind of work, and then, because you’ve
done welfare-to-work, you’ve done transition
from prison work, you’ve done all kinds
of a variety of, what I guess people would call
social work, or something. But how does that history fit
with what you’re doing now in terms of, again, working with at-risk
and high-risk youth? – Well, most recently, I was in Philadelphia running
the youth violence prevention collaborative
for the city. I worked for the mayor, sponsored by a foundation
to really lead this effort to come up with a strategy of
how to address youth safety in Philadelphia. That took me to all
sorts of places. Lots of time with police, lots of time in the
juvenile justice system, lots of time in the
education system, et cetera. I spent a lot of time thinking
about children and families. But my career has
also been around just vulnerable
families in general, whether I’ve been in government
at all different levels or being a practitioner,
running an organization. – And you and I have talked, I mean, full disclosure, you and I have been friends
for 30 years, I think. I don’t know how that’s
possible, but, (laughs) I am interested by, and we’ve had these
conversations before, what it’s like for you
now to work with youth who are at-risk, and you are hoping
to have them avoid some of the scenarios
you’ve worked on before. Being in the juvenile
justice system, being in prison, being in whatever kind of bad or terrible things
might’ve happened. So, those experiences, how do you translate
them into a school? Because it’s interesting
to me when you describe, and other people
we have on the show that talk about the
charter schools, people I know who’ve
taught in charter schools, it is more than just reading,
writing, and arithmetic in some of these really
tough neighborhoods with kids who’ve been through
a lot, a lot of trauma. It’s a full-blown
support system, right, in terms of, you know, maybe
free meals, afterschool care, all kinds of things beyond just reading, writing
and arithmetic. – I think all schools
face those challenges in our modern times. The most important
thing that happens at the Soulsville charter school is finding great people to work at the Soulsville
charter school. It’s really finding
terrific, dedicated, prepared teachers to come in. And then, also, to wrap supports
around children as well. Yes, it starts at
7:30 in the morning. You can have breakfast and lunch at the Soulsville
charter school. You will have sports and music and all sorts of
cultural activities. You will have summer
growth programs. We’ve certainly had a
variety of activities as well for children
during and after school. One of the things that we’re
layering into our school and to our whole
campus in general, so, remember the driving force
at the Soulsville Foundation is this unbelievable museum. I mean, it is fantastic, and it’s only gonna get better. We’re about to celebrate
our 15th anniversary, and we’re gonna do
a lot around that. What we’re doing for that
community of 130 adults that work in the charter school, and the museum, and
the music academy, and all the kids intersect
all those entities, is making our whole
community trauma-informed. Which means every
adult will be able to understand what trauma
is and recognize it, and then we’ll have
a response to it. We’re integrating
on-campus during the day and in the afterschool
and summer programs a support with experts in
the mental health industry to support us with that effort. – And when you say “Trauma,” I think all of us understand
trauma could be a car wreck, trauma could be the
death of a parent, trauma could be physical abuse, but there’s a broader
and more nuanced and more complicated
definition of trauma that I think you all are trying
to embrace and deal with. – That’s right. There is, in fact, there’s
something called ACEs, which is a kind of
a scale of trauma. Trauma could be a
divorce in a family, trauma could be an
incarcerated parent, trauma could be you
witnessed violence, you were a victim of violence. Particularly if you were
a victim of violence, if traumas appears in all sorts
of different ways, but if you were a
victim of violence and nobody addresses that, that can be devastating
for you and your career. All of a sudden, you could be this
thriving eighth-grader, ninth-grader, or
eleventh-grader. Something happens, and physically and
emotionally and mentally, things get stunted in you. You get on a trajectory
out of school and a pathway to adult success. It’s very important to address. – You address this, you’ve talked about the staff
being trained to identify. Then, do you have, I mean, is it not as simple as, but is it staff psychologists? Is it referring people
to outside resources? How much can Soulsville
and all its entities do for these kids? Sometimes you have to
look to other resources. – You certainly do, and we’re just
implementing this now. This is a new effort. You absolutely have
to coordinate with, you have to understand
what services and that services make
sure that, maybe, tapping into and using, and what’s out there
in our communities, which is why one of the tenets for us moving forward
in our strategy is to be a good collaborator
with other non-profits and organizations
in our community, to understand the
supports and services that are in our community, and build expertise
within our school to refer people out
and leverage those. – (Eric)
Bill. – How does the
younger generation, the school-aged children, relate to the legacy, the heritage of Stax Music? Because that time must seem like the Civil War was to people our age. How do they relate to
that whole success story? – With incredible enthusiasm
and joy and energy, and just total embracing
of that legacy. I’m sure, Bill,
you’ve probably seen some of the students from
the Stax Music Academy perform at all sorts
of venues in Memphis, and you just feel the energy. It’s just, the
music was amazing. The messaging in the music, particularly after 1968, was important and empowering. Doing those history lessons, really understanding where
the music was coming from is encouraging and
empowering to children, and for all of us who
get exposed to it. – A question off of some
of the weightier topics that we’ve been talking about. Is it possible for
someone to record at Stax, which, we should point out,
is not the original building. It’s an exact replica of it. Is that possible? – It’s an exact replica, but when the artists
come through, they’re amazed by how
it looks exactly like what it looked like, and then there’s a
museum wrapped around it. You could record
in our Studio A, and we have hookups, and people have recorded and
broadcast out of there before. Stax Music is actually in
California, the parent company, and so there are two active Stax recording artists right
now that I know of. One of them is a Memphis-based
group called Southern Avenue. Certainly, they’ve
played in Studio A. You can come to Studio A. I would love to
figure out how we get musicians to record in there. It’s something that we’re
thinking of strategically, moving forward. – But again, your mission is not to be in the music
business, necessarily. – That’s right, that’s right. – Let’s go back to that, that Stax Music is a for-profit. They bought the name. I assume it’s a label
that’s based out there, ’cause the history of Stax
of being under Atlantic, and then being under,
what was it, CBS Records? All of it’s on the website
and at the museum and so on. It’s a storied history, and it’s also a
kind of sad history about how that
played out, right? I mean, and interesting, about how musicians were
often taken advantage of by big labels. That whole history of
it is very fascinating, the business side of how
artists, big-name artists, often didn’t make a
whole lot of money off of the work they did. – You learn about that history
in our museum when you come. There’s also great local
authors like Robert Gordon who have terrific books and
articles on this kind of issue. There’s a company
called Concord Music, and we are really
close with them now. We are figuring out
a way that we can coordinate together to, they love what we do. They love our mission
with children. They love how much
we promote the brand, I mean, 60,000 visitors a year, and we’re trying to
figure out how we can even work more closely with them around social
enterprise, et cetera. – If you are of my generation, you grew up reading
album liner notes, just kind of devouring that while the record was
on the turntable. If you looked at the personnel on the music that
came out of Royal, you would see a lot of the
same session musicians. Al Jackson Jr. playing the drums on the Al Green records
that we all know and love. – Royal was a
studio, is a studio? Was it also a label? – Royal was a studio not
too far away from Stax that still functions today, where Uptown Funk was recorded. But the musicians really
had some porous borders in terms of working at
Stax, working at Hi Records. How is that incorporated
into the museum? – The name of the museum is The Stax Museum of
American Soul Music, so there’s an emphasis on
the Stax musicians for sure, and what happened
with Stax Records. But it’s also an emphasis
on Memphis musicians and the musicians
nationally as well. You will learn a lot about
Royal Studios and Hi Records, and all the local artists that were in that community. What’s remarkable, we said
this in the beginning, it was there were
three high schools that these kids came from, walked into Stax, it was
this open, funky place. You could get an opportunity
to work in the record store. You could work in production. You could clean up. You could audition. Famously, Otis Redding
walked in and auditioned at the end of a session one day, and Steve Cropper smartly said, “I think we got
something, here.” – We have about five
minutes left, here. Switching back to the
school for a second and the support structures
you were talking about, I’m sure there are
some people thinking, how much could that possibly
cost, to have those people? The funding of the school
and as a charter school, I don’t know how many charter
schools are in Memphis. Bill would know better
than me, but 30 plus four? I don’t know, it
just seems like- – (Bill)
Several dozen. – Several dozen. Many, many charter schools. How does that work from
a funding mechanism? How do you work with the state? How do you work with
Shelby County schools, and how do private
foundations, if at all, contribute to that? – Let me answer
that, but I just, you know, you get so
excited about the music and the museum, and we have just a
few minutes left, I just wanna remind folks
to come check all that out, to the museum. Also, every year we
do a fundraiser event with the great
Grizzlies Foundation, which is an amazing, for an NBA foundation, it is amazing what they
do in this community. We collaborate with them. We have our Staxtacular Party and a fundraising event
which is very important to us January 27th at seven o’clock. Anybody can buy a ticket. Go online at soulsvillefoundation.org
to buy it. You’ll just love coming
down to our museum and explore what we
just talked about. In terms of funding, we get the same amount of
funding for our charter school as every other
charter school gets from the Shelby
County school system. There’s a set fee per
student, and we get that. We also manage our
resources wisely, and we raise private
money to supplement the resources we have
at the charter school and music academy, which is why it’s
really important for people in our community to support us in
any way they can. Most of our money is not public,
very little public money. Most of it comes from private
and philanthropic sources. – The amount that
travels with the kid, whether you go to
your charter school, another charter school,
you go out to Germantown, it’s what, $8,000 or
something like that? Am I roughly correct? How much– – (Richard)
Six. – What’s that? – It’s more like
in the six range, and then you have
to supplement it. – And then you supplement it. I’m just curious. I mean, again, to
put you on the spot, but what it costs
to educate a child. It’s fascinating to people, last week we had Heidi Shafer, chair of the Shelby
County Commission on, talking about school
budgets and other things. It’s a huge expense for
the county, and so on. I’m sure you live
and do this stuff and think to yourself,
“I just need more money. “I need more money to
spend on these kids, given the high quality
education I wanna give them.” And then, to deal with
the kind of at-risk issue. – Certainly, it costs a
lot more than what we have. Just as a comparison, it costs $35,000 to
$55,000 dollars a year to lock up a 17 or 18 or
20-year-old into prison. The correction budget in
Tennessee is a billion dollars. We certainly can do
better in investing in the things that make a
difference in our community. We need a lot more, it can cost $10,000,
$12,000 a year per student to do what we wanna do, both in our music academy
and in our charter schools. But we don’t have that
kind of resources. – Again, just a couple
minutes left, here. You’re back in Memphis, you visit and you
have family here, but you’ve moved back,
you’re spending time, you’re working here, now. What have you learned
about Soulsville and Stax that you didn’t know? Maybe a lot of what
you said today, but I mean, what was
the most surprising, most amazing thing to learn? – I thought I knew about Stax. I thought I new about
the history of Stax. It is deeper and more
amazing than you can imagine. I haven’t spent a lot
of time in South Memphis and in those neighborhoods
that we’re working in. What a thriving,
great community there. I also didn’t realize what
is going on in Memphis among non-profits and others between Cleveland and the
river, and the two expressways. There’s all this
energy around health, and food, and youth
development, and re-entry, and workforce development. It is amazing what’s
going on in Memphis. I think a place like Memphis, when it is able to address
the major issues that we have, number one in the
country in poverty, high unemployment, et cetera. There’s all this energy
to make a difference around those big issues, and it’s great to
be a part of it. I’ve learned that there’s
an amazing amount of energy in this city to do something. – And then as person, so, again, we met in college. You were back then, and still
are, one of the biggest Memphis-boosters
I’ve ever known. Even when we lived in New York
and all that, always were. Again, now, you’re
working and living and in this
non-profit community. What’s it like to
be back in Memphis? – It’s great to be in
Memphis professionally. It’s just great to be here. The Memphis branding
that’s going on right now talks about creativity,
opportunity, soul, authenticity. I love to be a part of that. I think that’s true and real, and it’s great to be in
the wake of all that. – I think we’re
about out of time. Bill, any last thoughts? I think we’re good, they’re
telling me we’re out of time. I’m gonna mess up the
timing at the end. I will blame it on
the cold medicine. Thank you for being
here, Richard. Thank you, Bill, and thank you for joining us. Join us again next week. [dramatic orchestral music] [acoustic guitar chords]

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