MEMPHIS, TNApril 16, 2021  – Memphis’ The Soulsville Charter School (TSCS) has been honored with the SupportMusic Merit Award from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. The SupportMusic Merit Award recognizes individual schools that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

“Music education is a fundamentally important aspect of the college-prep curriculum we offer because we are an entity of the Soulsville Foundation, which is located at the original site of famed Stax Records, and the work of the foundation is rooted in carrying on the legacy of that internationally renowned music label,” said TSCS Executive Director NeShante Brown. “Receiving this prestigious recognition from the NAMM Foundation only bolsters our belief that music and arts in public schools are a necessity so that all students receive an education that offers even more room for creativity, problem-solving, and self-expression.”

To qualify for the SupportMusic Merit Award, TSCS answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

Since the passage by Congress in 2015 of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and a stated emphasis on a well-rounded education, many school districts have re-committed to music and arts education programs and found that in this time of a national pandemic, provides a valuable way to keep students engaged in school. ESSA provides designated funding for well-rounded educational opportunities through Title IV Part A Student Academic Success and Achievement grants. NAMM Foundation research has revealed that these grants are being widely used by school districts to address instructional gaps in access to music and arts education.

In a joint statement from TSCS’ Chorale Director Demetrius Robinson, Band Instructor Shaman McGowen, and Strings Instructor Heather Trussell, the teachers all agreed that, “Preparing students to be high-functioning members of society is one of education’s most critical roles. Therefore, music is fundamentally important if we want to provide our students with a truly world-class and well-rounded education.”

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music: After two years of music education, researchers found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers and that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school, but also to attend college as well. Everyday listening skills are stronger in musically trained children than in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to: perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory. Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound: young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

About The Soulsville Charter School

The Soulsville Charter School is a public charter school serving over 650 students in grades 6 through 12 daily. Our mission is to prepare students for success in college and life in an academically rigorous, music-rich environment. A U.S. News and World Report nationally ranked high school and 2015 SCORE prizewinner for leading student learning in Tennessee, 100 percent of our graduating seniors to date have been accepted to 2- and 4-year colleges and all students are receiving support along their post-secondary pathway from an alumni counselor. For more information about The Soulsville Charter School, please visit

About The NAMM Foundation

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,400 members around the world. The foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs. For more information about The NAMM Foundation, please visit

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