A stylish uptown soul music with elements of funk is defined as Memphis soul. It differs from Southern soul in that it is not as hard-edged. It has a sultry style which helped to redefine the music of the 1960s and 70s. Stax and Hi Records featured horns, organs, bass, and driving drum beats. Vocalists who performed these kinds of songs were from Stax or Hi Records. Disco changed the scene of the late 1970s, as Memphis soul started to decline in popularity.
For 14 years, Stax Records had launched the careers of Otis Redding, Johnnie Taylor, Wilson Pickett, Booker T. and the MGs, Sam & Dave, and Isaac Hayes to name a few. Out of roughly 800 singles and 300 LPs that were recorded with this record company, 166 of them were Top 100 hit songs and 265 of them were Top 100 hits on the R&B charts. Nine of the songs won Grammys.
Over two-hundred employees worked at Stax, making them one of the largest African-American run businesses in the U.S. at the time. Stax also gave back to their consumers by using a marketing budget which kept publications operating. Benefit concerts were often arranged to help raise money for the needy during Christmas and they promoted the federal government’s “Stay in School” program.
Hi Records released mostly rockabilly songs, but once that form of music began to decline in popularity, Bill Black took over the company and transformed it into a major powerhouse in the early 60s. The leadership of Willie Mitchell then changed the company into a successful label later.