No one ever accuses Memphis of being short on talent. With a church seemingly on every other corner, the choirs are filled with voices worthy of placing on compact discs. Blessed with schools such as Overton and Stax to train and hone those tones, Memphis churns out the "Voices" regardless of genre.
But as we all know, only a few have the disposable income, relationships and the perseverance to make it. It is hard to say who among the "newbies" may wind up along side the Memphis-rooted greats that include The Bar-Kays, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Aretha Franklin, Kirk Whalum, BB King and Al Green.
We have watched as Eightball & MJG, Juicy J and DJ Paul, Three 6 Mafia and Yo Gotti have all risen to national acclaim. With television shows, Academy Awards, soundtrack placements, and the like, these guys are showing us how to do it modern day.
Let's take a look at who is on deck and ready to bat in the various genres of music.
Perfection is an award-winning, Memphis-based contemporary gospel quartet. The men in this group are usually suited and dressed to impress. Their voices are powerful and worthy of praise, helping them win the 2013 Allstate Gospel Superfest.
With hits such as "What Is This" and "God's On Your Side," it is clear that these gentlemen are on their way to the top. Album notes describe their sound as vintage and soulful. Steve Maples, Gerrod Allen, Chris Williams and Kevin Lake are producing timeless music that touches the lives of young and old, men and women.
OG Boo Dirty is remaining true to the street sound that Memphis has become known for. Although the content is not for children, the sound is infectious and will have you bouncing to the beat. As he continues to move beyond legal challenges, he is releasing songs featuring Gucci Mane and Young Dolph. OG Boo Dirty is contributing to that next generation of artists in the lanes of Three 6 Mafia.
Young Dolph is certainly not one to let OG Boo Dirty rise without him. His lyrics are for mature folks but again the sound is contagious. The beats are banging and are sure to have the clubs rocking. Equipped with videos and a team, Young Dolph is killing the game with mixtapes. With over 470,000 hits for the "A-Plus Official Music Video," the word is spreading about Young Dolph.
Lila embraces the roots of Memphis through the sounds emitted from her violin. Classically trained as a hip jazz violinist accompanied by a band, this petite lady has traveled the world and shared her gift internationally. "South Memphis Blues" is just one of the many endearing songs in her repertoire. While jazz is one of her genres, she is versatile. Lila is just as comfortable in hip hop, soul, alternative, rock and reggae.
Kris Thomas made us proud and represented us well on "The Voice." His falsetto was memorable beyond his years. He has a place on the international stage and is poised to go far. As a preacher's kid, is there any surprise that Thomas has a voice that is as smooth as silk.
As a Stax Music Academy alum, he is representing them well. According to his website, his goal is to "connect lyrically, but inspire musically" with the hopes of creating and sharing his own musical legacy to the world. Kris is moving in the right direction.
And with that, we conclude our month-long celebration of African American Music Appreciation Month. Originally created as Black Music Month by President Jimmy Carter in June 1979, President Obama now refers to the celebration as African-American Music Appreciation Month (AAMAM). The celebration highlights the rich musical contributions of African-American musicians, composers, singers and songwriters to the nation and the world.