The Stax Music Academy shows off their moves during Staxtacular 2018. (Photo: Warren Roseborough)

On a rainy Saturday night in South Memphis, more than 500 attendees were a part of Grit, Grind and Groove at Staxtacular 2018. The Memphis Grizzlies and the Soulsville Foundation held the event, now in its 13th year.

Over the years, Staxtacular has raised more than $1 million for the Stax Music Academy.

The ‘party with a purpose’ kicked off at the Stax Musuem of American Soul and was hosted by Grizzlies’ guard Mario Chalmers and Paije Speights. Former Grizzlies forward and Staxtacular co-founder Shane Battier and his wife Heidi were also in attendance.

All proceeds benefit the Stax Music Academy, which inspires young people and enhances their academic, cognitive, performance, and leadership skills by utilizing music with an intense focus on the rich legacy and tradition of Stax Records. Approximately 80 percent of SMA students attend via scholarships provided by the Soulsville Foundation through fundraising efforts such as Staxtacular.

“This event is supporting the kids and I am all about helping the kids — that’s what my foundation (Mario V. Foundation) is about,” said host Mario Chalmers. “Anytime I can do anything to help guide them and provide them with leadership, I am always willing to do that.”

Chalmers continued, “The community raises you, especially for me growing up the community played a lot in my upbringing; it’s good to give back to the community that raised me.”

Co-host Paige Speights knows the importance of giving back, she said, “The community builds a foundation for everything you’re going to do in life.” She believes a cause like Staxtcular is very important since all the proceeds go towards keeping the kids in school at the Stax Academy.

Guests were able to listen to live music by the Stax Music Academy, Stax Music Academy Alumni Band and special DJs. They had a chance to meet Chalmers, Battier, Speights and other Grizzlies’ guest. Attendees also participated in mobile, silent and live auctions. There was plenty of food and drinks to go around.

Elliot Perry, the Grizzlies Director of Player Support, said we all are responsible for supporting quality organizations that are helping kids advance and reach their full potential.

“All three of these entities, the Soulsville Foundation, the Stax Musuem of American Soul, and the Stax Music Academy are tremendously important to south Memphis,” Perry told The New Tri-State Defender.

“The most important thing that God has given me is my time — and it is the one thing I can’t get back,” Perry continued. “It is always easy to give my resources but if I am giving my time to the young kids in the community sharing my experiences with them — you know never know what might happen.”

Attendee Tia Fulton, a transplant from Washington, D.C., has been living in the city for six months and wants to support any and everything Memphis.

“Coming to Staxtacular is a great way to support our youth and invest in the community as a whole,” Fulton said. “So many people see music as a just fly by night opportunity but it is really important to invest in the groundwork and these kids are laying the groundwork for these amazing futures.”

Ronnie Chalmers, father of Mario Chalmers was in attendance. Chalmers was there to support his son. The elder Chalmers said giving back is near and dear to his son’s heart.

“Whatever team Mario has played for, he has always supported the community and it’s apart of his passion,” said the elder Chalmers. “Mario’s mother and I trained him when he was growing up to always humble yourself; the same people you see going up, you will see them coming down and always give back to the community.”

Staxtacular 2018 raised an estimated $225,000.