Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: The president is off to another busy week. And so am I.
Dear Mr. President,
This would be an excellent day for you to be jealous of me. I’ve had a crazy long, hard day of work launching our latest Building Up America tour, but it has been worth it. We are in Memphis as I write this, and I must say I am really impressed with what they are doing here to try to bring back their music industry.
Now, I say that at some peril, because I’m sure there are those who would insist that it never went away. Undeniably, Memphis has always been one of the most important cities in this country when it comes to contributions to the music scene. Just think about the days when Elvis Presley, or B.B. King, or Carl Perkins, or Isaac Hayes, or Johnny Cash were recording here. Come on…that was a great era for creativity.
But then came some long, dim decades, according to folks who know it best. While talented folks continued to appear, they didn’t find a real industry anymore to publish their music, record it, or promote it. So most of the best had to move away if they really wanted to chase success.
Now, however, local business types here have established a new non-profit called the Memphis Music Foundation. They have some colorful offices on the second floor of an old building; there pretty much anyone who is interested in music can come and learn more. They have computers, connections, books, papers, research - anything anyone might need to understand almost any aspect of the business. If you want to be a concert promoter, they’ll tell you how. A recording engineer? They’ll point you in the right direction. You’re interested in copyright law? They can help with that, too.
It’s all free. And it’s working. In just two years they have collected 4,000 members; several of whom have made it to the finals of American Idol. Justin Timberlake, who has born in Memphis, has become a big donor and supporter. And the president of the group says the ability of people to make a real living off of music in this town has been substantially improved.
Anyway, it was really uplifting. And I had a fascinating conversation with the man who used to run Stax records, Al Bell. And I met a member of the Bar-Kays. And I had some great barbeque. It was all good.
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