It’s the 10th anniversary of Levitt Shell, and Memphis is on our minds! To celebrate, we’re looking back on our “Meet The Artist” video, featuring four-time GRAMMY-winning artist and 2014 Levitt Shell performer, Booker T. Jones, best known for the band Booker T. & the M.G.’s. Jones was born and raised in Memphis as a musical prodigy – by age 18 he had already written the instrumental for “Green Onions,” which would become a massive radio hit in 1962 and spur the success of both his band and his solo career. Soon he was writing songs for Otis Redding and Eddie Floyd, all while attending Indiana University. He and his band won their first GRAMMY in 1995 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance thanks to their song “Cruisin’”. In 2007, Jones won the coveted Lifetime Achievement GRAMMY Award. In this video, we had the honor of speaking with the legend himself, learning a little more about his career-spanning connection to the Levitt Shell.
When we spoke with Jones, he recounted how this same stage was home to his first live performance in Memphis, way back when the Shell was known as the Overton Park Shell. Jones also speaks to the benefits of free music presented to the public: “I consider the arts, and music especially, to be one of the elements that keeps us sane and holds society together.” One of his greatest joys in being able to perform comes from seeing the younger faces in the audience. “It reminds me of my first experience being exposed to live music at a park similar to this one. I remember the thrill that I felt,” Jones says. “The wonder. It’s great to see that in their eyes.”