“There is a spirit of renaissance here right now. We’re seeing more collaborations, more artists working together, gigging together and hopefully writing together,” said Tonya Dyson, a musician, teacher and blogger from Covington, Tenn. (Isaac Hayes’ birthplace), who’s called Memphis home for over 20 years.
Dyson runs NeoSoulville, a website that celebrates “all the cool, new soulful happenings in the city.” When we met her, she also was running a pop-up record store at Edge Alley, a mixed-use space that houses a cafe and retail shops.
For contemporary musicians, being surrounded by Memphis’ rich musical history can be a double-edged sword, Dyson said. “It’s a gift to be amongst these amazing legends, but it’s also a curse because it’s kind of like being in the shadows. … Being able to produce original music, that’s a way to set (contemporary artists) apart while we pay tribute to them. You can clearly hear (the influence of) Stax and Hi, but we added to it to create this new and fresh sound.”