Jazz Great Kirk Whalum Named CEO of Stax Museum & Stax Music Academy in Memphis


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MEMPHIS, TN - After an international search for a new CEO of the Soulsville Foundation (which operates the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Stax Music Academy, and The Soulsville Charter School) to replace interim CEO Deanie Parker, former Director of Publicity and Artist Relations for Stax Records, the foundation board announced today that renowned musician, songwriter, and entertainer Kirk Whalum has accepted the position. The board also announced that Mark Wender has also joined the staff as Chief Operating Officer.

Whalum, the Stax Music Academy's Artist in Residence since 2006, is a native not only of Memphis, Tennessee, but also of the very neighborhood where Stax Records cranked out its hundreds of hit records and where the Stax Museum and Stax Music now stand. He grew up literally around the corner, where his family had lived for almost a century. “It is with a tremendous awe, an expectant outlook, and just enough 'fear' to keep me grounded," Whalum explains, “that I have chosen to take this new career path in my life. I have a sincere love for this musical legacy, for the heroes who forged it, and for letting the world know that we are dedicated to taking it into the future.

“My family has been a vibrant part of this community for almost 100 years now and love for Stax and the community is in my DNA. The entire staff of the Soulsville Foundation shares that passion and I look forward to working with them to ensure that as many people as possible around the world come to know about the great work we do."

Whalum will continue to tour and record, but his schedule will be adjusted so that he may focus more on his work with the Soulsville Foundation. “When I am out on tour, I will be promoting Soulsville the entire time," he says. “When not on tour, I will be at my desk."

Wender brings a wealth of business, nonprofit, and entertainment experience to the Soulsville Foundation. He is the former COO of National Mortgage Company/Boatman's National Mortgage Company and former owner of Lunar Productions, where the company received numerous local and national prestigious awards, including an Emmy nomination. Most recently he has been executive producer of two documentaries featuring the Holocaust survivors of Memphis. He has been recognized by many Memphis area nonprofits for his leadership and service.

This story appears courtesy of Stax Museum of American Soul Music.
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