Aug. 19--Memphis' Stax and Detroit's Motown, the twin giants of American soul music, will come together this fall with the first Epitome of Soul Award ceremony at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.
Motown icon Stevie Wonder has been signed, sealed and will be delivered to Memphis for the October 11 concert, a fundraiser for Consortium MMT, a Memphis music mentorship and development organization headed by former Stax songwriter and performer David Porter.
"There is no one in our view that could be a better choice," said Porter, the founder, president and chairman of Consortium MMT. "The first desire was to ask Stevie Wonder to be a recipient. There are few artists living today on his level as a songwriter, as a record producer, musician and philanthropist."
Since debuting in the early '60s as "Little" Stevie Wonder, he has sold more than 100 million albums and singles and has been awarded 22 Grammys, a record for a male solo artist. According to Porter, Wonder will perform at the concert alongside yet-to-be-named "celebrity" artists also doing material from Wonder's catalog.
Consortium MMT will be naming other concert participants in the weeks leading up to the event.
"We do have some significant artists involved," Porter said.
Just fewer than 1,900 tickets will be available for the event, with prices ranging from $60 to $250. Tickets go on sale Wednesday via Ticketmaster.
"We wanted an award coming out of Memphis that is prestigious for artists to receive but also reflects the credibility that Memphis has in the eyes of the world," Porter said.
In June, Porter's group, a two-year-old academy designed to develop music talent in Memphis, merged with the longer-standing Memphis Music Foundation, the joint organization retaining the Consortium MMT name with Porter as president and chairman of its 12-member board.
The merger was designed to eliminate duplication of services and confusion among potential donors, as well as rekindle the Memphis music industry.
"The goal is to have a thriving music industry once again in Memphis, built around the brand value of soul music that already is respected all over the world," Porter said.
The Epitome of Soul Award is intended to be an annual event and a precursor to a larger soul music festival that Porter says is still in the works for late next year.
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