Concord and Stax Academy Hold In-Person Workshop

Last month, Concord Music Publishing and Stax Records hosted the first-ever in-person sessions of their songwriting workshop for Stax Music Academy students in Memphis, Tennessee. Though this is the first in-person workshop, Concord’s publishing team has been working with Stax Music Academy students for the last three years, providing an annual six-week virtual songwriting workshop series featuring its top music business experts and renowned songwriters and producers.

This year’s workshop was a hybrid experience, taking place virtually over Zoom and concluding with an in-person listening party and feedback sessions at the Academy. The 2022 cohort of ten students shared their original music and got insight from music industry experts including producer and Grammy award-winning songwriter Varren Wade, Founding Soulsville President and CEO Deanie Parker, Concord Senior VP of A&R Jeremy Yohai, and Concord A&R Senior Manager Matthew Megan. Over the six-week workshop, discussion topics ranged from songwriting for media such as film and TV, writing for their own artist projects versus for other artists as well as working through writing techniques, song arrangement, production and more.

Grammy award-winning songwriter Varren Wade has collaborated with top artists including Ella Mai, Giveon, Drake, Janet Jackson, Rotimi, Jennifer Lopez, Stormzy, Noah Cyrus and more.  Wade has co-writes featured on numerous critically acclaimed releases, such as Ella Mai’s multiplatinum single “Trip,” which reached #1 on R&B/Hip-Hop radio, and seven cuts on her recent album Heart on My Sleeve, as well as Giveon’s multiplatinum and Grammy award-nominated viral hit “Heartbreak Anniversary,” “Fair Trade” off Drake’s Certified Lover Boy. Wade also cowrote two songs on Stormzy’s UK #1 debut Gang Signs & Prayer and Lalah Hathaway’s Grammy award-winning album for Best R&B Album, Lalah Hathaway Live.

Deanie Parker is the Founding President and CEO of the nonprofit Soulsville Foundation, established to build and manage the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Stax Music Academy and The Soulsville Charter School. She previously worked as a key administrative executive for Stax Records, working with internationally famous performers including Isaac Hayes, Booker T & the MGs, Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Richard Pryor, The Dramatics, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King and others.

Jeremy Yohai is an SVP of A&R for Concord Music Publishing in the US, where he oversees frontline signings and the active writer/producer/artist roster across pop, hip-hop, R&B, Latin genres. Prior to joining Concord, Jeremy was the VP of Global A&R at Downtown Music Publishing where he oversaw the US/International A&R staff, new artist signings and the Downtown artist/writer roster. Before joining Downtown, Jeremy worked in Creative Services at ASCAP recruiting and developing the careers of emerging songwriters and artists. From Yohai’s team, Matthew Megan, Senior Manager of A&R, has worked at Concord for over five years and specializes in A&R research and data analysis.

Michele Smith is the VP of Estate & Legacy Brand Management for Craft Recordings, the catalog division of Concord. She oversees the brand management and licensing opportunities for Stax Records, the Estate of Billie Holiday and the Estate of Tammy Wynette.  Her work includes co-producing the Billie Holiday documentary, Billie, executive producing a forthcoming HBO docuseries on Stax Records and managing the recent acquisition of the Stax Records API Bill Carrier Photo Collection. Smith is Concord’s representative on the Soulsville Foundation Board, and she has the pleasure of working with the Concord Stax Scholarship Fund, which will raise one million dollars for 100 deserving Memphis-based Stax Music Academy students over years. Click here to donate to the Concord Stax Scholarship Fund.

Jeremy Yohai, SVP A&R at Concord Music Publishing: “Working with the students at the Stax Music Academy has been such a humbling and inspiring experience. It has been truly rewarding watching the students grow as songwriters over these past 3 years. When we originally came up with this concept it was meant to be in person but unfortunately, COVID prevented that, so to be able to sit with the students in person this year was amazing. Big thanks and much appreciation to all the Concord songwriters that have given us their time and energy.”

Michele Smith, VP, Estate & Legacy Brand Management at Craft Recording/Stax Records adds: “It is exciting to see that the musical legacy and foundation of Stax Records is still influencing a new generation of singers, musicians, and songwriters. What started as a spark of an idea between Concord and the Soulsville Foundation has led to an exciting musical journey that adds a deeper level of instruction by allowing the students to directly access industry professionals on a weekly basis during the fall. These students are being inspired through one on one and collective instruction that is also teaching them practical wisdom to hone and enjoy their craft. It is because of the support of so many that this series has become a reality and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the tremendous support from Concord Chairman Steve Smith, the founding President and CEO of the Soulsville Foundation Deanie Parker, along with Pat Mitchell-Worley, the current President and CEO of the Soulsville Foundation, Isaac Daniels, the Executive Director of the Stax Music Academy, Ryan Peel and the other members of the Stax Music Academy and Concord Music Publishing teams allow this to happen every year. We are seeing music education change lives and impact the future.”

Previous workshops have included guests such as GRAMMY®-winning songwriter, producer and engineer/mixer and founder of Ark Music Publishing, a joint venture with Concord Music Publishing, Noah Goldstein, GRAMMY© Award-winning artist, composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist and keyboard, Cory Henry, Academy-award winning film 20 Feet from Stardom star Judith Hill, longtime collaborator of Chance the Rapper, Nate Fox, GRAMMY©-nominated songwriter Teddy Sinclair, as well as Anthony Rossomando, Kareen Lomax, Yuli, Tim Maxey, Bizness Boi, Merna Bishouty and Mr Hudson.