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The home of blues, soul, and rock & roll, Memphis, Tennessee, has spawned some of the most important artists and record labels of all time. Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Aretha Franklin, and Johnny Cash all started out in Memphis, many of them on the famous Memphis label ‘Sun Records'. The importance of Sun Studios led to it being designated a National Historic Landmark.
Memphis was also home to Stax Records, the label that shaped the unique music style called ‘Southern Soul' with stars like Otis Redding. At a time of racial tension, Stax was unprecedented for its racially integrated staff and bands, including the house band Booker T. & the M.G's.
Beale Street has been home to blues clubs and restaurants for over a hundred years and is a big tourist attraction in the city. In the 1960s it was declared a National Historic Landmark and declared ‘Home of the Blues' by US Congress.
New Orleans, Louisiana, home to one of the worlds more flamboyant Mardi Gras festivals, is also the birthplace of jazz, with the earliest incarnation - Dixieland - sometimes called traditional jazz or 'New Orleans jazz'.
Louis Armstrong probably needs no introduction. He was one of the most influential figures in jazz, with a career that spanned from the 1920s to the 1960s. He became one of the great public figures of the time – even the airport is called ‘Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport'.
New Orleans has also been a prominent centre of funk, home to some of the earliest funk bands such as The Meters, who celebrated 50 years in music with a performance at the New Orleans Orpheum Theatre earlier this year. The Meters, considered along with artists like James Brown as the originators of funk music, started as the house band for Allen Toussaint.
Allen Toussaint is one of the most influential figures in New Orleans music writing a number of hits over a 50-year career. He was awarded a National Medal of Arts from President Obama in 2013.
Head to the historic Bourbon Street, one of the oldest streets in America. It sits at the heart of the French Quarter and is dotted with iconic buildings, clubs, and bars. A short walk away is Frenchmen Street, where a number of live music venues play anything from jazz to blues and reggae. The Snug Harbor jazz club and bar is considered one of finest here.