Fridays, September 7, 14, 21 and 28 • 6:00-8:00pm
Founders Park • Free • BYO Lawn Chairs/Blankets
Back by popular demand, the National Civil Rights Museum is hosting its free MLK Soul Concert Series each Friday evening in September! With the theme, “Be Loud, Vote,” the emphasis on voter education and registration. Stretch out on your blanket or lawn chair and enjoy the tunes. If music makes you feel like dancing on the lawn, all the better! Best of all, it is FREE!
We're proud of the outstanding musicians we will showcase as well as our wide variety of music. This year's concerts will delight music lovers of all ages with music ranging from jazz to soul, with a taste of the oldies – and of course, a sampling of legendary Aretha Franklin's vast repretoire in tribute to the Queen of Soul.
September 14 – WILL GRAVES AND SOUL
September 21 – KAREN BROWN and KEIA JOHNSON
September 28 – DEVIN CRUTCHER
Comedian Cleatis Allen Jr. will perform at intermission on September 21. Spoken word artist Carin "Writeous Soul" Malone will perform.
Comedian Rob Love will perform at intermission on September 14 and 28. Spoken word artist Yolanda "Quiet Storm" Gates will also perform.
*BAD WEATHER? The concert for that Friday will be cancelled. When possible, the cancelled night’s entertainment will be added on the next week.
2018 MLK Soul Concert Series Performers Bios
Karen Brown blends the soulful artistry of her church choir experience with the moving emotions of the great R&B legends and delivers a performance that is uniquely her own. She is a Mississippi native with more than 20 years of experience in music. Her journey began in her hometown church and continued through college. In 1992, she kicked off her solo career performing at local and regional clubs, festivals, and concerts. Her extremely flexible and highly proficient vocal range soon became the most desired and sought-after voice in the South; it still is today. She sings in the key of love while specializing in the genres of Gospel, R &B, Soul and more. Karen has shared the stage with and sang background for some of the biggest names in the industry and has earned her position as a musical staple in the South through the elements of consistency, vocal efficiency, charisma and professionalism.
Will Graves and Soul was formed in 2001 by lead singer/keyboardist William Graves II. Will has long been recognized as a premier vocal talent in Memphis, with recognition including winning the Grammy showcase sponsored by the Memphis Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammy Awards). As a creative artist and powerful performer, Will has always attracted quality musicians from the region, and the current line-up is good evidence of that. Alphabetically, the members of Soul are: Christopher Barnes (percussion/vocals), Courtney Barnes (drums/vocals), Thomas Crivens (lead guitar/vocals), Christopher Davis (bass guitar/vocals), William Graves (keyboard/lead vocals), Gerald Morgan (saxophone), and Prentice Wulff-Woeston (trombone/vocals). Performing soul, jazz, pop, R & B, rock, gospel, inspirational, Will Graves and Soul are also frequently booked for public and private events throughout the Mid-South. One can hear a perfect blend of genres represented authentically by Will Graves and Soul regularly in Downtown Memphis.
With over a decade of experience in the entertainment field; Keia Johnson has made a name for herself as the multifaceted artist that attacks each opportunity with gusto and her signature smile.
Keia was born in San Antonio, TX but grew up all over the world in a military family. Keia listened to a wide range of artists, but it was the move to Memphis that helped her establish her sound and performance style. She has performed with some of the best talent Memphis has to offer, while also building relationships with notable legendary artists like The Bar-Kays and David Porter of Stax Records.
Keia blew judges away in Hollywood as an “American Idol” contestant for two seasons. She later competed in Season 4 of the “The Voice.” Since then, she has sung for everyone from former President Bill Clinton and former Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton to writer/producer Tyler Perry, singer Denise Williams and author Eric Jerome Dickey. She has been cast in plays and was awarded Actress of the Year Award (2016) from Memphis’ Diversity on Stage & Film Committee as well as being featured in a new independent film “Verge” that showcases local Indie artists.
Born and raised in Memphis, TN, Devin Crutcher’s talent was recognized on Sean "Diddy" Combs, “Making the Band,” Season 4. He has opened up for Floetry, Will Downing, Angela Winbush, Lenny Williams, Chante Moore, Fantasia, Jamie Foxx, and Kem to name a few. Devin contributes his love for music to the many influences in his life including Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Amy Winehouse, Johnny Taylor, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, and his grandmother Bettye Crutcher. His grandmother is the talented singer/song writer who contributed to many great hits out of Memphis' own Stax Records. With strong musical roots, Devin Crutcher is a staple performer in Memphis as well as throughout the country, leaving a musical imprint wherever he goes.
Memphis comedian Cleatis Allen, Jr. has been boasting his talents in front of sold-out crowds, touring with King of Comedy Steve Harvey, Queen of Comedy Monique, Bruce Bruce and singer Fantasia. He was featured on Kevin Hart's "Hart of the City" in 2017, highlighting the funniest comedians around the country. Cleatis was invited to perform on the popular Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage Cruise working with comedians D.L. Hugley and Paul Mooney. Cleatis also appeared on Bounce TV's comedy show "Off the Chain" and has performed in clubs and colleges all across the nation!
Comedian Rob Love is a Memphis-based comic traveling the country spreading laughs and Love. The 2013 Funniest Person in Memphis Contest winner has opened & featured for some of the hottest acts in the country, including Red Grant, D.L. Hughley, Melanie Comancho and more. His unique brand of comedy combined with his positive energy are gifts that allow Rob Love to leave a lasting, positive impression on audiences wherever he performs.
Other Concert Features
Each week a voter registration drive will be conducted by #UPTheVote901, a nonpartisan initiative committed to increasing voter turnout in Memphis and Shelby County through voter registration, education, engagement and empowerment. The concert series coincides with National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, September 25, and #WhenWeAllVote Week of Action on September 22-29.
The new Lorraine on Main Museum Store will extend business hours to host concert goers and Trolley Night (September 28). Food trucks will also be present. You're going to love the MLK50 Outdoor Concert Series. We know it!