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When you think about Memphis, Tennessee, Elvis Presley maybe comes to mind. But today, the city is brimming with talented musicians.

They play all kinds of music styles, from rockabilly to soul, in clubs and on the streets throughout the city.

What's more, the locals say there's usually a level of unity whenever music starts to play in Memphis. Making music just seems to bring everybody together.


Musicians from Stax Music Academy. Photo via XQ.

Music also has the power to inspire us to be better and go a step further in life, even when circumstances have pushed us down. That, in essence, is why Stax Music Academy got started — to encourage kids' development through the practice and performance of music.

Stax Music Academy exists to nurture the next generation of musical talent — no matter their background or skill level.

A Stax student playing on the keyboard. Photo via XQ.

"We get students in and we try to enhance their cognitive abilities and musical abilities as well as their character," explains Adrianna Christmas, the director of Stax. They turn students into "Soul Communicators" — socially conscious artists who actively give back to their communities.

There's also a huge focus on the legacy of Stax Records, the iconic, soul-based record label that was founded in Memphis 60 years ago.

What makes Stax particularly special, however, is that 70% of their students come from marginalized communities. Since its mission is to raise up kids using music, it would only make sense that they would strive to include the kids who might need that boost the most.

But it's not just about fostering great musicians. It's about helping these kids get in touch with who they really are.

A Stax student on guitar. Photo via XQ.

"Stax taught me how to control myself, discipline myself, better myself," says Chris Franklin, one of Stax's students. "Both sides of my family, they’ve done music. It runs in my bloodline, and I think I should carry it on."

"I know Stax helped me to see the worth and value that I have in myself," admits Jaden Graves. "Even if I don’t fit in, I can embrace who I am."

The teachers see the growth too. Kids come in nervous and shy but leave as confident music aficionados. It makes sense that they've maintained a 100% college acceptance rate since 2008.

In a world where there's so much adversity and discord, a space that's dedicated to teaching kids how to harmonize is most welcome.

[rebelmouse-image 19530011 dam="1" original_size="700x467" caption="The Street Corner Harmonies group from Stax. Photo via Stax Music Academy." expand=1]The Street Corner Harmonies group from Stax. Photo via Stax Music Academy.

That's especially poignant when you remember Memphis is where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. While music may not be the only reason attitudes have changed there, it's unifying nature no doubt played a part.  

Stax's awesome setup is more than capable of fostering the next great musical prodigy, but that's far from what makes it important. It's the fact that it offers musically minded kids a chance to find themselves and that is beyond worthwhile.

Learn more at XQSuperSchool.org.

Check out Stax's story here:

XQ Rethink High School: Memphis

Kids are learning about music, and themselves, through this empowering program in Memphis.

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, November 8, 2017

This article originally appeared on November 11, 2015


Remember those beloved Richard Scarry books from when you were a kid?

Like a lot of people, I grew up reading them. And now, I read them to my kids.

The best!

If that doesn't ring a bell, perhaps this character from the "Busytown" series will. Classic!

Image via

Scarry was an incredibly prolific children's author and illustrator. He created over 250 books during his career. His books were loved across the world — over 100 million were sold in many languages.

But here's something you may not have known about these classics: They've been slowly changing over the years.

Don't panic! They've been changing in a good way.

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Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

The Sam Vimes "Boots" Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness explains one way the rich get richer.

Any time conversations about wealth and poverty come up, people inevitably start talking about boots.

The standard phrase that comes up is "pull yourself up by your bootstraps," which is usually shorthand for "work harder and don't ask for or expect help." (The fact that the phrase was originally used sarcastically because pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps is literally, physically impossible is rarely acknowledged, but c'est la vie.) The idea that people who build wealth do so because they individually work harder than poor people is baked into the American consciousness and wrapped up in the ideal of the American dream.

A different take on boots and building wealth, however, paints a more accurate picture of what it takes to get out of poverty.

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"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) and actor Peter Dinklage.

On Tuesday, Upworthy reported that actor Peter Dinklage was unhappy with Disney’s decision to move forward with a live-action version of “Snow White and the Seven Drawfs” starring Rachel Zegler.

Dinklage praised Disney’s inclusive casting of the “West Side Story” actress, whose mother is of Colombian descent, but pointed out that, at the same time, the company was making a film that promotes damaging stereotypes about people with dwarfism.

"There's a lot of hypocrisy going on, I've gotta say, from being somebody who's a little bit unique," Dinklage told Marc Maron on his “WTF” podcast.

"Well, you know, it's really progressive to cast a—literally no offense to anybody, but I was a little taken aback by, they were very proud to cast a Latino actress as Snow White," Dinklage said, "but you're still telling the story of 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.' Take a step back and look at what you're doing there.”

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