Stax relaunches with tributes to legends


NEW YORK -- Fifty years after the launch of legendary soul label Stax, Concord Music Group is reactivating the imprint after a 30-year-hiatus with new signings, re-issues, and special events.

After forming in 1959, Memphis-based Stax released hits by Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Sam and Dave, the Staple Singers, the label's famed house band Booker T. & the MGs and many more. The company went bankrupt in 1976 although its repertoire has been kept alive in reissue form via a variety of other labels.

The first new signings to Stax include soul luminary/Stax patriarch Isaac Hayes and vocalist Angie Stone, while the first new release will be "Interpretations," a tribute to the songs of Earth Wind & Fire mastermind Maurice White. The disc will include performances by Chaka Khan on "Shining Star," Musiq Soulchild on "Reasons," Meshell N'degeocello on "Fantasy," Kirk Franklin on "September," the Roots' ?uestlove (as the Randy Watson Experience) with Bilal on "Can't Hide Love" and Stone on "Be Ever Wonderful."

Concord, which acquired Stax as part of its purchase of Fantasy Records in 2004, will also honor the label's 50th year by releasing definitive collections, rare performances and unreleased tracks in deluxe packages. The first of these will be "Stax 50: A 50th Anniversary Celebration," a two-CD, 50-track anthology including hits from its original roster of artists.

In tandem with Soulsville USA, the City of Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Stax Museum of American Soul, Concord will also participate in numerous live, broadcast and other events as part of a year of activity surrounding "Memphis Celebrates 50 Years of Soul."