By: Emily Linginfelter ~Staff Writer~
The Xavier Community received a glimpse into the struggles and successes of Stax Records in an evening showing of the award-winning “Take Me to the River,” featuring guest appearances of the talent behind the film. The screening took place during the Center for Interfaith Community Engagement’s annual “Touching History” event on Nov. 3.
The documentary follows three generations of Stax musicians as they recount the history of the Memphis-based record company. From competing with Detroit’s Motown generation and fighting against the racism of the 1960s, the group overcame the odds of discrimination and rose to become the second largest African-American business.
“Take Me to the River’ is not only about exposing racial injustice from the past, but how our musicians overcame it through music,” director Martin Shore said. “In the film, we explore so many issues that were relevant in the heyday of Stax Records and that are still pertinent today, with a focus on inter-racial, inter-generational and cross-gender collaboration.”
A question-and-answer panel followed the film and featured key speakers including Shore; Georgia State Hall of Fame Stax legend William Bell; singer and songwriter Al Kapone; Stax master instructor Paul McKinney and Charles and Leroy Hodges, musicians who won 27 gold and platinum records in a row from the Hi Rhythm Section.
Immediately afterwards, Shore exited the stage and was replaced by Brandon Chornes and Andrew Saino, two aspiring musicians from the Stax Music Academy. With other Stax members they formed a multi-generational band and performed for the audience. The Mississippi Delta songs included “Hold On, I’m Coming,” “Soul Man,” “If I Gave You My Love,” “Sitting On the Dock of the Bay” and “I Forgot to Be Your Lover,” performed by the composer William Bell.
“The theme every year is to have our students touch history by touching someone who was present at an important moment in history,” Rabbi Abie Ingber, director of the Center for Interfaith Community Engagement, said. “What happened in the 1960s and early 1970s in Memphis during the emerging music was really transformative for America.”