Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Historical Malaco Records, May Be History?

Malaco Records is an independent record label that is not only established in Jackson, MS, but is also near and dear to the heart of Jackson, MS.  It was founded in 1962 by Tommy Couch, Mitchell Malouf, and Wolf Stephenson and was originally a booking agency.  However, Malaco welcomed a recording studio in its facility in 1967.  Jackson, MS is proud to have such a historical establishment on its grounds.

Malaco Records has an impressive discography with artists ranging from Johnnie Taylor (Cheating in the Next Room and Soul Heaven), Dorothy Moore (Misty Blue), Z.Z. Hill (Down Home Blues), The Williams Brothers (I'm Still Here), Georgia Mass Choir, and Mississippi Mass Choir (God Is Keeping Me), just to name a few.  These extraordinary and successful artists have paved the way for so many up and coming local artists, and also serves as encouragement to local artists.  The Malaco Music Group has presented an annual Jackson Music Awards for the past 30-plus years that recognizes and acknowledges the musical talents and accomplishments of such artists and musicians during the previous past year. 

In 2010, Malaco Records reached a milestone when it was recognized by a historical memoir being planted at the site of where the company was established.  The memoir reads, “Malaco Records, one of America’s foremost labels in the fields of southern soul, blues, and gospel, was founded at this site in 1967.  Malaco’s studio was the first state-of-the-art recording facility in Mississippi.  The label attained national stature with the success of Dorothy Moore’s ‘Misty Blue’ (1976), Z.Z. Hill’s ‘Down Home Blues’ (1982), and other records by the Jackson Southernaires, Denise LaSelle, Bobby Bland, Little Milton, Latimore.”

The following exerts are songs of some Malaco Records’ artists from over the years:
Dorothy Moore's Misty Blue

Johnnie Taylor's Soul Heaven

ZZ Hill's Down Home Blues

The Williams Brothers' I'm Still Here

As the famous phrase states, “All good things come to an end” or at least come to a halt.  On Friday, April 15, 2011, one of the deadliest and strongest storm cells and tornados ripped through the southeastern region of the United States.  During this treacherous storm, Malaco Records was destroyed!  Nearly 45 years of history is gone and its future of being rebuilt is now questionable.  According to Jackson, Mississippi’s WLBT TV-3, Wolf Stephenson (co-founder) lamented, “Well it’s just a…it is a very sad feeling to see 44 years of work; 44 years of my life out here gone in 15 seconds, but we’ll clean up; come back to cry another day.”  Stephenson and fifteen of his employees were inside Malaco’s walls preparing to shut down for the weekend when the tornado struck.  Fortunately, every spot that each individual took cover remained intact.  However, the room that housed masters of recordings by world famous artists such as Dorothy Moore and Johnny Taylor as well as record keeping and royalty offices were completely demolished.  The southern music industry took a loss on April 15, 2011, and has been left with picking up the pieces.  However, its historical memoir still stands, as it weathered the storm.
Wolf Stephenson inside of Malaco Records

I leave you with footage from one of the most devastating, deadliest, and damaging tornados in the history of the southeastern region.  Why don’t you Share In The BlogLedge and express your sentiments about not only Malaco’s possible demise, but also how devastating these storms were to you and/or to those you may or may not have known.  
Southeastern Region (OK, AR, LA, MS, AL)

Clinton, MS
Let me be the first to break the ice by saying that I knew so many individuals that were in the path of these storms in various states and the Lord watched over each of them, because they are all still here to tell the story.  Furthermore, when I learned of the destruction that Malaco Records faced, I paused for a second to catch my breath, as I was in disbelief.  Seeing the damage in person is far worse than what is seen on the news broadcast.  Every time the news mentioned Dorothy Moore's Misty Blue as it related to Malaco Records' history, I would think about how many times I sang this song in talent shows as a little girl.  However, I was thankful that everyone inside of the Malaco building survived the storm and without injuries.


  1. It was a very horrible thing that happened that day but through it all I can say that there are a lot of us that need to really continue to kneel down and thank the good Lord like the wonderful song says "I'm Still Here" in which is a very beautiful and testimonial song. But as long as we as people can come together and pray and help one another we wouldn't have to say goodbye to history. It can be rebuilt to a wonderful and bigger place.

  2. Hi KaJuanza!

    I agree that we all have much to be thankful for and need not to take things for granted. Furthermore, I agree with you about "Im Still Here" by the Williams Brothers. That is a beautiful and testimonial song, and is one of my favorite gospel songs. What is also amazing about this song, is that it is sung by an amazing group that is a product of Malaco Records. Wow, what awesome talent we have in Jackson, MS! I also agree with you that we do not have to say goodbye to history, and I hope that we do not have to part with Malaco. However, Wolf Stephenson (co-founder) stated that he was not sure if the building is worth being rebuilt after 44 years. I, for one, would love for the company to be rebuilt, but in the event that Stephenson decides not to do so, we can still keep the legacy of Jackson, Mississippi's historical Malaco Records alive!

    Thanks KaJuanza, for Sharing In The BlogLedge! :)

  3. Although that was a tragic event that happened, I also don't believe that it has to be a goodbye. I have gone through a lot of storms (personally) over my short 35 years here, and each one in my mind seems to be bigger than the last, and sometimes for a split second, I think how much more can I take, but I always get thru. And sometimes those storms even turn into blessings. Even if they chose not to rebuild the building for Malaco records, the legend will always be here.

  4. Hi Tamika!

    I agree wholeheartedly! Now we could sit and try to figure out why such catastrophic events occur, and in this case, Malaco, but our thoughts would be in constant limbo. However, there could be a greater blessing in store, we do not know. One thing that is pertinent for us to do is to stay prayerful, be grateful, and not let the history and legacy of Malaco Records die. This way we will not have to say goodbye, I concur, even if it were not rebuilt. Malaco Records has definitely paved the way for so many of its successors, and the seeing these successors reach fruition in their careers also contribute to keeping Malaco's legacy alive.

    Thanks Tamika, for Sharing In The BlogLedge! :)

  5. Though the building is gone, Malaco Records lives on through its legacy (as you pointed out). In this case, no one got injured or seriously hurt, and I think that is what's most important. As for the tornadic devastation, it's hard to come to the realization that the youtube clips (of tornadoes ripping through places you are most familiar) show an event which actually happened in real life. It seems almost unreal.

  6. Hi Justin!

    This entire ordeal is surreal; unbelievable! The fact that this actually occurred in MS and other southeastern areas is even more unbelievable, especially when the myth has always stated that tornados do not come to cities and mountainous areas. Both have been proven wrong in a matter of hours. However, I concur with you that everyone's safety and survival is ultimately the most important thing, and yes, it is up to us to keep Malaco's legacy alive whether its rebuilt or not.

    Thanks Justin, for Sharing In The BlogLedge! :)

  7. Chelle, you are so right... I didn't know little old Mississippi had a record label.. And for them to produce some songs that I actually know... Just blew my mind... But yes it was a very devastating day... It as the song writer say mademe very misty blue... As for the record company I know even if they rebuiid the memories and memoirs are priceless... In actually one of my residence daughter was in the building when the tornado touched down... Thankfully she was unharmed as well as her fellow coworkers... As for Clinton while everyone was heading out I was going in to get to work... Thankful "The Jesus" was a fence all around me and my residence the building was untouched and everyone was ok... So in my ending we are sad that all the history and memories are gone... But we can say that we will live to see another day

  8. Hi Mz. Nurse!

    And what a "Misty Blue" day that was for soooo many businesses and most importantly, sooo many people!

    As I mentioned in my blog post, Jackson, MS is proud to have had such a historical landmark as Malaco Records on its grounds. There is just so much history that even us residents are unaware of, until its gone. The infamous phrase is quite powerful: "You never know what you have til' it's gone." I am glad "The Jesus" did watch over all of us that day and in particular those individuals (including your residence's daughter) who were actually inside of Malaco Records when the tornado hit. Now I would have to disagree just a tab here with you, Mz. Nurse, as the memories of Malaco Records are not gone, because through its legacy those memories still live on. However, the evidence such as certain memoirs and masters are gone and probably will never be retrieved.

    Most IMPORTANTLY though, I agree with you, as we can say and Thank God that we did live to see another day.

    Thanks Mz. Nurse, for Sharing In The BlogLedge! :)