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Southern Spaces
A journal about real and imagined spaces and places of the US South and their global connections

Music in Memphis

Emory University
Published March 31, 2004


The Mid-South city built on a Mississippi River bluff, Memphis sits at the confluence of extraordinary musical streams: Anglo-Celtic upcountry song styles, fiddle bands, and gospel harmonies mingled with Delta blues, African American congregational and quartet singing, and jazz up from New Orleans. The offspring include Memphis soul, rockabilly, rock and roll, and country.

Music in Memphis

A Century of Blues in Memphis
A Century of Blues in Memphis


A Century of Blues in Memphis. "Memphis' role in nurturing the blues is undeniable. In the theaters, parks, and clubs of Beale Street; in its temporary recording units and legendary studios; in its airwaves shooting across the Delta; and in the careers of those born there and those who only stopped for a while, Memphis was the half way point where the country blues of the Delta first grew accustomed to the city. And when it moved on, catching a northbound train to Chicago and beyond, the precedent of the encounter would continue to reverberate in Memphis’ equally historic contributions to jazz, gospel, rockabilly, and soul." (See:


An audio visit with Nick Spitzer to the streets where Elvis Presley grew up: includes a stop at Wild Bill's blues club and comments from Jerry Lee Lewis.

Biographer Peter Guralnick discusses Elvis Presley and Memphis on American Routes

Presley band members D. J. Fontana and Scotty Moore recall Elvis.
Sun Studio founder Sam Phillips talks about crafting sound as country, rhythm and blues, and gospel came together to shape rock and roll.

The story of Sun Records as told by founder Sam Phillips to Terry Gross of WHYY and National Public Radio's Fresh Air.

Recalling Stax Records and the distinctive sound of southern soul. Featuring Booker T. and the MG's, the Memphis Horns, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Carla Thomas, Johnny Taylor, Isaac Hayes.

Memphis musician and deejay Rufus Thomas talks about his career on American Routes.

Rufus Thomas on Elvis.

Reverend Al Green recalls his singing career from soul to gospel.

Travel Highway 61 with blues legend B.B. King.

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