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Memphis students build on long legacy of R&B and soul artists from their community


Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

Geoff Bennett: At the Stax Music Academy in Memphis, students learn the fundamentals of music, building on the long legacy of R&B and soul artists who emerged from their local communities.

This piece comes to us from the "NewsHour"'s Student Reporting Labs, which oversees journalism training at over 150 high schools and middle schools across the country, and is part of our arts and culture series, Canvas.

Dalen Brown, Student: I'm going to stay in this key.

Pat Mitchell Worley, President and CEO, Stax Music Academy: Here, the students learn what were the elements that went into songs of the past in order for them to create those songs of the future.

Dalen Brown: I sing everywhere.

With me being at Stax Academy, now I feel more confident, because I'm learning how to like breathe and stuff like that, so now I can do my singing to the fullest.

Isaac Daniel, Executive Director, Stax Music Academy: This is an R&B institution that teaches kids the basics about rhythm and blues and soul.

Pat Mitchell Worley: We have alum who are playing with Bruno Mars and Silk Sonic. This last Grammy cycle, three of our alums were on Grammy-nominated projects from gospel to pop.

Dalen Brown: I heard that Stax had a lot of genres. So, then I came over here and was like, let's see what this is all about. When it is fast, you, like -- you want to, like, dance to it. And then, when it is real slow, you are like -- you just, like, smooth-dance a little bit, like dance with your partner or something like that.

Pat Mitchell Worley: We have many long, long, long, long conversations.

Dalen Brown: Blues can make you feel sad, but it can also make you feel good. But then pop can make you feel sad, but then it can also make you feel good. So, it is how you receive it, really. So, I mostly receive it just as music.

Pat Mitchell Worley: This is a musical place. All of them, I think, are great examples of students who have found a space where they can be creative.

Rickey Fondren, Student: When I got in, like you're automatically being accepted into like a family, and a family that cares about you and cares about music the same as you do.

Dealing with a lot of self-doubt, it was kind of hard to kind of fit in with school. I just knew that I loved to sing. Performing has just become a thing that I need to do.

Isaac Daniel: Music is an outlet to help kids stay focused, determined. They will come in with all these different ideas of what they can't do. And when they walk out, they have all these ideas of what they can do.

Rickey Fondren: I believe that I was created to do great things and to do it through the world of acting, through the world of theater, through the world of music.

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