Purdue Black Cultural Center’s Jahari Dance Troupe salutes Stax Records in spring revue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Purdue Black Cultural Center’s Jahari Dance Troupe will pay tribute to Stax Records, a popular black-owned record company in Memphis, Tenn., in their spring revue on April 19.

Admission for the 7 p.m. performance in Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse is $5 for Purdue students and $7 for the general public.

“What we do is always aligned with the Resources Tour, and last fall the tour went to Memphis to study the blues,” said Kevin Iega Jeff, artist in residence for the troupe.

The Jahari Dance Troupe was joined on the field research tour to Memphis by the other three BCC performing arts ensembles, Black Voices of Inspiration, Haraka Writers and the New Directional Players. BCC’s theme last semester was “The myths and mores that make up the blues tradition.”

Started in 1959 by a banker, Jim Stewart, and his sister, Estelle Axton, Stax eventually became one of the largest and most successful black-owned companies in the nation before it went into bankruptcy in 1975. Stax was one of the dominant soul music labels and was closely identified with the civil rights movement of the 1960s and ’70s.

Between 1959 and 1975 Stax released hits such as “Soul Man,” “Dock of the Bay,” Green Onions,” Midnight Hour,” “Respect Yourself,” and the theme from SHAFT. Artists on the label included Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Booker T. & the MG’s, Rufus and Carla Thomas, the Staple Singers and Isaac Hayes. Comedian Richard Pryor and civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson also were under contract. In December 2006 Concord Records revived the Stax label.

Some of the music the troupe will perform includes “Soul Finger,” by The Bar-Kays, “Walk On By,” by Issac Hayes and “Do The Funky Chicken,” by Rufus Thomas.

“One of the goals at the BCC is to use the arts as a vehicle to expand the students’ world,” Jeff said. “I’ve enjoyed doing that with these students.”

Jeff is in his fourth year as artist in residence. An internationally acclaimed choreographer, he is the artistic director of the Chicago-based Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre.

There also will be a special guest performance by Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, from Chicago. Deeply Rooted presents innovative and inspiring expressions of contemporary life. This critically acclaimed ensemble offers works that entertain and ignite emotional responses from diverse audiences.

One of BCC’s four performing arts ensembles, the Jahari Dance Troupe was established in 1971. It is a student company trained in a variety of techniques that range from traditional styles to contemporary trends in black dance. Named for the Swahili word meaning jewels, the group’s repertoire includes African, ballet, Caribbean, folk, jazz, modern dance and music video dance styles.

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One Response to “Purdue Black Cultural Center’s Jahari Dance Troupe salutes Stax Records in spring revue”

  1. Carolyn Killen says:

    Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton who founded and owned STAX Records were NOT black. STAX was, however, a fully intergrated operation, unusual for the times.

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