Stax Goes to Broadway

AP Photo
From "Ray" to Stax.

Concord Music Group and producer Stuart Benjamin will develop a musical based on the story of the iconic Memphis soul label.

Following on the heels of the successful Motown: The Musical Broadway show, Concord Music Group and Academy Award-nominated and Grammy-winning producer Stuart Benjamin have begun development of a musical production based on the dramatic story of iconic soul music label Stax Records. The book will be written by Matthew Benjamin, with a spring 2016 Broadway premiere targeted.

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The Stax Records saga, from its beginning in an old movie theater on East McLemore Avenue in Memphis, Tenn., to its extraordinary rise as an international hit machine, marks a historic chapter in American music history. Amid the civil rights era's racial strife and deep-seated tensions of the late '50’s and '60s, Stax’s integrated artist roster and staff fundamentally shaped American soul music, spawning the careers of recording artists, songwriters and producers such as Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & the MG’s, The Staple Singers, Albert King, Johnnie Taylor, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, David Porter, Steve Cropper, and Rufus and Carla Thomas, among many others.   

Stuart Benjamin co-founded New Visions Entertainment, which has produced such films as Against All Odds, White Nights, La Bamba, Everybody’s All American, The Long Walk Home and Mortal Thoughts, as well as the Oscar-winning short Teenage Father. As a principal in New Visions Music Group, Benjamin has been involved in a number of platinum-selling soundtrack albums. He collaborated with such artists as Sting, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Mariah Carey and Billy Preston in executive-producing Sam Moore’s comeback album, Overnight Sensational. He has also produced a live gospel concert with Ray Charles, which he also directed, and the multiple-award-winning Genius: A Night for Ray Charles tribute concert. 

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Benjamin’s friendship with Ray Charles resulted in the legendary soul icon's full participation in the biopic Ray. The film garnered six Academy Award nominations, including best picture for which Benjamin, its producer, was personally nominated. He also won a Grammy Award as producer of the film’s multiplatinum soundtrack album. 

Benjamin has produced two hit musicals, Louis & Keely Live at the Sahara, which will begin touring in 2014 after a long run at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood, and Unchain My Heart … The Ray Charles Musical, which had a successful run at the Pasadena Playhouse. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California and Harvard Law School.

Earlier this week, Concord Music Group announced the acquisition of legendary R&B label Vee-Jay Records.