(Stax Music Academy News Release) – On Thursday, December 12, 2019, the Stax Music Academy was featured on the final night of NBC’s three-night holiday special, “Ellen’s Greatest Night of Giveaways,” during which Ellen DeGeneres and a host of her celebrity friends surprised people with incredible unexpected gifts. Celebrities included Michelle Obama, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Timberlake, Robert Downey Jr., Melissa McCarthy, Michael B. Jordan, Jason Momoa, Christy Teigen, and many others.
JustinTimberlake, who in August 2019, with the Levi’s Music Project, installed asongwriting lab in the Stax Music Academy and spent two days with the studentsworking on original music, surprised the students on the show with Ellen andjoined her in giving one Stax Music Academy student a cash gift for his collegefund, along with other prizes for the students who performed the Stax classic“Soul Man” on the show and a $250,000 donation to the Stax Music Academy.Academy staff and students were unaware of Timberlake’s involvement or thedonations until the segment was taped.
“Asone thing led to another,” says Stax Music Academy executive director PatMitchell Worley, “and we found ourselves traveling to Los Angeles in lateOctober to be on a special show with Ellen DeGeneres. This kind of nationalexposure is what our students and staff work so hard to achieve and it was agreat, confidence-building experience for them. It was a lesson for thestudents in just what heights they can achieve if they stay focused, work hard,and practice whether they plan to be a professional musician or any otherendeavor they pursue in life.”
RichardGreenwald, President and CEO of the Soulsville Foundation that oversees theStax Music Academy along with the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and TheSoulsville Charter School, says, “We couldn’t have imagined a better way tokick off the Stax Music Academy’s upcoming 20th anniversaryand we are so appreciate for everything Justin Timberlake has done andcontinues to do for us, especially helping us establish this new relationshipwith the Levi’s Music project and now helping us with this opportunity withEllen DeGeneres. We have set a fundraising goal of $1 million for the comingyear and this will certainly help us get to that goal. We hope the momentum isjust beginning and we look forward to all we have planned in 2020.”
TheStax Music Academy hosted a small, informal watch party in its band suite for students,families, and friends, who screamed and cheered while someone passed around amammoth box of Kleenex.