MEMPHIS, Tenn. — If a Justin Timberlake at Stax records appearance during the Biden inauguration special surprised you Wednesday night, you are not alone. Thousands of Mid-Southerners were caught off guard.
Timberlake and artist Ant Clemons sang their new song "Better Days" during the "Celebrating America" special.
So how did the artists sneak into town and record a music video at the Stax Museum and in the middle of the street without anyone noticing?
This video made its first appearance on national TV, surprising many Memphians. But even those in the video were surprised when they saw the final product.
"I was in complete shock that it was actually happening, and I was on TV singing with Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons," said singer Amelia Greenwald.
Greenwald said she and students from the Stax Academy Music Academy had just a couple of days to learn the song. Then they recorded and sang during the music video production.
"I really enjoyed it and I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to work with them, because they are just so professional and talented. It was amazing."
A portion of the video was shot inside the museum, the rest out on the street in front of Stax.
Because of confidentiality agreements, no one would say when the video was produced - but we did learn the call to participate came New Years Eve.
"We did it all in several days. We got notice they were coming. We organized, We rehearsed. We prepared. We did the broadcast. It was amazing," said Richard Greenwald, Soulsville Foundation President
Many wonder how Justin Timberlake was able to make a video in Memphis and keep it secret?
"Nobody saw it and the street was kind of blocked off, and we did it at night and kind of under the cover of darkness, and it was fantastic," said Greenwald.
Greenwald said Memphis native Justin Timberlake has a long-term relationship with Stax Music Academy and Stax Museum. In 2019, he helped create a song writing lab there and has been doing song writing instruction with students. So Greenwald said it wasn't a surprise students were called to help in this product.
Many Midsouthernors are aware of the history of Stax's records and its impact on music. Greenwald said it was an honor to see Memphis represented on such a historic day.
"The music that happened here, the legacy that happened here. The work we are doing now to keep music going in preparing people for the future and preparing people to be successful adults was all representing last there for the world to see," Greenwald.
Stax release released this news release about the video and its involvement in the music video.