Published on September 24th, 2020 | by TLV News2
Willie Mitchell and the Music of Royal Studios Opens Ocotber 1 at GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi
New Year-Long Exhibit To Celebrate the History of the Legendary Memphis-Based Recording Studio
CLEVELAND, MISS. — The legendary studio that was instrumental in shaping the sound of Memphis soul will be celebrated with a new exhibit opening at GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi on Thursday, October 1, 2020.
In partnership with Memphis Tourism, the exhibit, titled Willie Mitchell & The Music of Royal Studios, is a collaboration between the Mississippi Museum and Memphis-based Royal Studios, and will tell the story of the iconic studio—one of the oldest in the world that continues to operate today—and the late Willie Mitchell, who ran the studio and produced many artists on its label, Hi Records. On display through September 5, 2021, the exhibit will feature artifacts from Royal Studios and Hi Records artists, such as:
- Boo Mitchell’s Record Of The Year GRAMMY® Award for Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk,” which was recorded at Royal Studios
- Willie Mitchell’s Trustee GRAMMY Museum® Award
- Al Green’s “No. 9” microphone, an RCA 77DX ribbon mic that Al Green preferred to use on his recordings
- Plus more artifacts from legendary Royal Studios artists and sessions
“The Royal Studios display at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi will educate visitors on the impact that my father, Willie Mitchell, and all the producers and artists he worked with at Royal Studios and Hi Records have had on the Memphis sound,” said GRAMMY-winning artist and producer Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, son of Willie Mitchell and current owner of Royal Studios. “We are thrilled to be able to partner with the museum to bring the history of Royal Studios to life in the form of this exhibit. The artifacts and stories we culled together will show how instrumental Royal Studios has been and continues to be in shaping the music and careers of so many influential artists of yesterday and today.”
“We are so grateful to Boo Mitchell and the Royal Studios team for helping us bring this exhibit to life,” said Emily Havens, executive director of GRAMMY Museum Mississippi. “Willie Mitchell and Royal Studios played such an important role in developing the Memphis soul sound. And today, as one of the oldest still-operating recording studios in the world, Royal Studios continues to bring us music by such contemporaries as Bruno Mars and John Mayer. We’re thrilled to be able to share this important piece of music history with our visitors.”
“We are thrilled for the opportunity to partner with GRAMMY Museum Mississippi and Royal Studios to share this important piece of Memphis music history,” said Kevin Kane, President/CEO of Memphis Tourism. “As the home of blues, soul and rock and roll, Memphis continues to have a large impact on American music, and, like so many studios in Memphis, Royal Studios has played an important role in putting Memphis on the musical map. It’s an honor for us to get to partner with these two music institutions to bring the story of Royal Studios and Memphis music to life.”
GRAMMY Museum Mississippi is currently open with updated health and safety protocols on Thursday through Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm, and Sunday from noon to 3 pm. For more information, visit www.grammymuseumms.org.
For up-to-date information on upcoming GRAMMY Museum Mississippi exhibits and programming, subscribe to the Museum’s newsletter at grammymuseumms.org/newsletter.
ABOUT ROYAL STUDIOS
The building that Royal Studios and Hi Records reside in today was originally built as a movie theater in 1915. Converted into a studio in 1957, Royal Studios—home of Hi Records and the Hi Rhythm Section— grew from a minor rockabilly studio into one of the most successful producers of soul music worldwide. Under Willie Mitchell, the musical direction of Hi Records changed significantly from rockabilly to R&B as Mitchell helped fashion the modern Memphis soul sound. Mitchell signed with Hi Records in 1963 as a session trumpeter. The pinnacle of Mitchell’s personal recording career was in 1968 with “Soul Serenade,” which reached No. 10 on the charts.
After Hi Records president Joe Coughi passed away in 1969, Mitchell took on more production and administrative duties. Soon, his own recording career was eclipsed by his genius as producer of one of the most influential singers of the 1970s, Al Green. For the next four years, Green and Mitchell had a No. 1 hit each year. In his career with Hi Records, Green would go on to sell more than 20 million records. Other top artists who have recorded hits at Royal Studios include Chuck Berry, Melissa Etheridge, Bruno Mars, John Mayer, Charlie Rich, Keith Richards, Rod Stewart, Ike and Tina Turner and many more. Hi Records and Mitchell also produced other known artists, including Ann Peebles, Don Bryant, George Jackson, Ace Cannon and Bobby Blue Bland’s highly influential album, A Touch of the Blues.
Currently owned and operated by Willie Mitchell’s son, Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, and granddaughter, Oona Mitchell Bean, Royal Studios is one of the oldest perpetually operated recording studios in the world.
ABOUT GRAMMY MUSEUM MISSISSIPPI
Developed by the Cleveland Music Foundation—a nonprofit organization founded in 2011—the 28,000- square-foot GRAMMY Museum Mississippi is housed near the campus of Delta State University, home of the Delta Music Institute’s Entertainment Industry Studies program, which features the most unique audio recording facilities in the South. Affiliated with the Recording Academy™, GRAMMY Museum Mississippi is dedicated to exploring the past, present, and future of music, and the cultural context from which it emerges, while casting a focused spotlight on the deep musical roots of Mississippi.
The Museum features a dynamic combination of public events, educational programming, engaging multimedia presentations, and interactive permanent and traveling exhibits, including a Mississippi-centric area that introduces visitors to the impact of Mississippi’s songwriters, producers, and musicians on the traditional and modern music landscape.
For more information, visit grammymuseumms.org, “like” GRAMMY Museum Mississippi on Facebook, and follow @grammymuseumms on Twitter and Instagram.
ABOUT MEMPHIS TOURISM
Founded in 1923, Memphis Tourism, a 501(c)(6) membership organization, serves as the official destination marketing and tourism organization for Memphis and Shelby County. The Memphis Tourism sales staff covers the convention, sports and tourism sales market segments and is supported by a marketing department that includes advertising, digital marketing, research, public relations and membership. Memphis Tourism also has representatives for the destination working in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Japan and the United Kingdom. Each year thousands visit two Memphis Tourism owned and operated visitor centers in Whitehaven and Arlington, along with a third downtown center that is operated in partnership with the state of Tennessee State Department of Tourism.
Memphis Tourism’s commitment to workforce and economic development efforts are managed through its 501(c)(3) affiliate, Welcome to Memphis, which works to ensure tourism and hospitality professionals are equipped with customer service skills and destination knowledge to create a positive visitor experience. The Memphis Sports Council operates within Memphis Tourism and works to bring a variety of large and small sporting events to Memphis and Shelby County each year, in addition to supporting annual sporting events. Memphis Management Group (MMG), a subsidiary of Memphis Tourism, operates both the Memphis Cook Convention Center and The Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.
For more information about Memphis Tourism, visit www.memphistravel.com.