I sat down to watch Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story with a plate of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens and cornbread sitting in front of me. With one had on the remote and the other on a bottle of hot sauce, it was only fitting that I feed my body with soul food while feeding my mind with the same.
Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story is one of three DVD's released this year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the recently resurrected label. Headquartered in Memphis, Stax thrived in the Civil Rights era and brought people on both sides of the black/white racial divide together through music.
Watching this DVD it was evident how much I didn't know about Stax Records, and I received quite an education about Soulsville, U.S.A. Not only was the label home to superstars Otis Redding, Booker T. & the MG's, the Staple Singers and Isaac Hayes, but Stax was an integral part of the landscape of Black America in the '60s to mid-'70s. Whereas Detroit-bred Motown made soul music with an eye on crossover appeal, Stax was unashamed in making soul music filled with blues, funk, gospel, and the blood, sweat and tears of a people.
After watching Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, I was filled with pride, sadness and hope. Pride about the resiliency of Stax as it kept bouncing back stronger than ever after numerous set backs. Sadness for the losses that Stax suffered over the years and about the current state of urban music. And hope for the future of Stax with acts like Lalah Hathaway and Angie Stone taking the label into a new era.
Unlike my takeout dinner, which even a copious amount of hot sauce couldn't help, Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story was a delicious and filling meal for my soul. I highly recommend this DVD for fans of soul music and those interested in examining where its come from and wondering what's next for the genre.