The Stax Museum's executive director Jeff Kollath thinks a lot of stories get lost in the shuffle.
"Like how incredibly important women are in music history, from basically the start all the way up to the present," he says. "It's especially true at Stax, with Mrs. [Estelle] Axton, whose name's on the label. And Carla Thomas was the first big star, and Deanie Parker played an incredibly important role behind the scenes."
Kollath and the Stax Academy have teamed up to create a living history project called "Women of Stax," with six local actresses — Kim Baker, Brandi Nycole, D'Monet, Tena Wheat Crump, Mimmye Goode, and Jackie Murray — playing six women who made a difference in Memphis music. What began as a summer research and performance project at Stax Academy has grown into something Kollath calls "a living museum."
"That term was coined by Justin Merrick who worked at the music academy," Kollath says, giving credit where it's due. "It's a compelling way for people — especially young people — to learn about this history. It sounds trite, but this really comes to life in an engaging, fun, and exciting way."
Using monologues and song "The Women of Stax" introduces audiences to the life and work of Axton, who put the "Ax" in Stax, and recording artists Alberta Hunter, Thomas, Mavis Staples, Parker, and Linda Lyndell.