Deep South USA Blog

Justin Timberlake celebrates Memphis Soul Music at the White House by performing with Steve Cropper…

This week Justin Timberlake visited the White House for a special evening celebrating Memphis soul music that was recorded for broadcast on 16thApril. Mavis Staples, Sam Moore, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite performed, as well as Justin Timberlake. During the performance, Timberlake (a Tennessee & Memphis native) did his rendition of Otis Redding's beloved "(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay". The cherry on top of Timberlake's White House sundae must have been the brief moments during which Barack and Michelle actually sang along to his performance.

"These songs get us on the dance floor", Obama said "They get stick in our heads. We go back to them again and again. And they've played an important part in our history". The president also mentioned Booker T. Jones and Steve Cropper for their role in forming one of Memphis' first integrated bands. "They weren't allowed to go to school together. They weren't even always allowed to travel or eat together" says Obama "But no one could stop them playing music together… and that's the spirit of the music: the Sound of Soulsville USA".

Earlier in the day, Justin Timberlake joined Michelle Obama and a group of musicians for a school workshop on "Soulsville, USA: The History of Memphis Soul." The students also got some history lessons from the first lady as she highlighted Memphis as the birthplace of rock & roll with Elvis Presley, and the birthplace of blues with B.B.King.

The full story of Memphis soul music and all it's history is told at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, a not-to-be-missed attraction for any music enthusiast, where the giants of soul took the funk out of Memphis and carried it all over the world. You start with the award winning introductory documentary film to an authentic 1906 Mississippi Delta church that explains the gospel roots of soul music, then tour the museum as it winds and twists through a labyrinth of exhibits highlighting musical giants such as Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Booker T & the MGs, Isaac Hayes, Eddie Floyd, Al Green, Aretha Franklin and the Staple Singers. If you are in Memphis this year Stax Museum are celebrating their 10th anniversary!

As well as music Justin Timberlake's other link to Memphis is golf. Justin grew up in Memphis and as a huge golf fan he decided to open his own golf course in Millington, which is just 15 minutes north of downtown Memphis. The Mirimichi golf course welcomes golfers and nature enthusiasts alike. The environmentally-friendly golf course features deep-pit bunkers, elevated greens, seven pristine lakes and several waterfalls and creeks, providing more than 7,400 yards of championship-level golf.

Joshua Ledet from Louisiana, one of the finalists of American Idol, also played at the White House for President Obama and is taking the music world by storm.

If you would like to request information on Memphis please email or complete an enquiry form. You can also view our Online Memphis & Mississippi Guide.

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