The city is like a place of pilgrimage for any soul, blues, or rhythm and blues fan. Robin McKelle, who went back to her first love with the album Mess Around in 2010, has chosen the city of the Stax and Hi record labels, Otis Redding, and Al Green in order to record her new album. Just a few minutes of listening to Heart Of Memphis is enough to understand that choice. Despite the time that has gone by and the museums being built in place of the legendary recording studios, the spirit of the city that, in its heyday, represented one of the best eras of American popular music has not disappeared. Robin McKelle immersed herself in that spirit for her new album, two years after Soul Flower. "I wanted to capture the Memphis sound in the recording process and the goal was to write the music and arrangements with that sound in mind." says Robin McKelle. By enlisting Scott Bomar's services—the man behind the mixing console for many of Isaac Hayes' and Al Green's recording sessions—McKelle made it clear she wanted her album to be in line with the sound of these artists. "But I don't think of it being a tribute album." she adds. "I learned so much about Memphis soul after spending time there. I got to visit Stax, Graceland, Sun Studios... so many amazing places where legendary music was made! Just being there was so powerful. We walked past the Lorraine Motel (where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated) every day on the way to the studio and you couldn't help but feel something heavy." With her deep voice and her earthy, frank, direct, and gut-wrenching singing, McKelle embraces the legacy of those great artists from a city well-known for its tendency towards raw expression. "Memphis soul is different from the Motown sound because has more raw emotion and being in the south it's also influenced by country music. It's more "in your face" than the Motown. I have a natural gritty sound or rasp in my voice so this sound suits me well."
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