Among the rare Studio A photographs in the Jonas Bernholm exhibit currently on view at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music is this one that includes several legendary Memphis musicians: James Alexander (shown from behind) on bass, Steve Cropper on guitar, Al Jackson Jr on drums, then-unknown singer/songwriter Eddie Floyd (standing) and Booker T Jones on keyboard. Photo courtesy of Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

New Stax Museum exhibit pays homage to ‘Mr R&B’

Among the rare Studio A photographs in the Jonas Bernholm exhibit currently on view at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music is this one that includes several legendary Memphis musicians: James Alexander (shown from behind) on bass, Steve Cropper on guitar, Al Jackson Jr on drums, then-unknown singer/songwriter Eddie Floyd (standing) and Booker T Jones on keyboard. Photo courtesy of Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

Among the rare Studio A photographs in the Jonas Bernholm exhibit currently on view at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music is this one that includes several legendary Memphis musicians: James Alexander (shown from behind) on bass, Steve Cropper on guitar, Al Jackson Jr on drums, then-unknown singer/songwriter Eddie Floyd (standing) and Booker T Jones on keyboard. Photo courtesy of Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Through Aug. 1, 2013, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music will shine the spotlight on a remarkable collection of historical music ephemera amassed decades ago by a Swedish fan with a passion for American rhythm and blues. The back story behind the museum’s new exhibit — which is presented in conjunction with the Memphis in May International Festival, this year honoring the nation of Sweden — is almost as fascinating as the archive itself.

In 1968, a young man from Sweden by the name of Jonas Bernholm made a soul music pilgrimage to the United States visiting studios, clubs, and other sites related to the American R&B and soul music he loved so much. A music researcher/record label owner — later better known as “Mr. R&B” — Bernholm made it his mission to build a collection of records and memorabilia documenting the Memphis sound and the musicians who formed the nucleus of the uniquely American music he loved. Bernholm’s vast collection of original records was purchased by the Smithsonian Institute in the 1990s, because of the contents’ cultural significance to American R&B and rock and roll music.

The Stax Museum exhibit features documents, album covers, posters, and other items, including rare photographs that were taken inside Stax Records’ famed Studio A, which Bernholm visited during his 1968 trip. Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of Bernholm’s odyssey to Memphis was being able to spend the day with Stax Records’ Estelle Axton, who was co-owner of the label at that time with her brother Jim Stewart.

The exhibit is accompanied by a continuously looping 11-minute mini documentary about Bernholm, which was researched by Jan Kotschack (currently writing Bernholm’s biography) and edited by Enrico Barile.

The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is located at 926 E. McLemore Ave., Memphis, TN 38106.

For additional information on the exhibit and to learn more about the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, visit www.staxmuseum.com. Tel. 901-942-SOUL (7685).

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Among the rare Studio A photographs in the Jonas Bernholm exhibit currently on view at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music is this one that includes several legendary Memphis musicians: James Alexander (shown from behind) on bass, Steve Cropper on guitar, Al Jackson Jr on drums, then-unknown singer/songwriter Eddie Floyd (standing) and Booker T Jones on keyboard. Photo courtesy of Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

Among the rare Studio A photographs in the Jonas Bernholm exhibit currently on view at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music is this one that includes several legendary Memphis musicians: James Alexander (shown from behind) on bass, Steve Cropper on guitar, Al Jackson Jr on drums, then-unknown singer/songwriter Eddie Floyd (standing) and Booker T Jones on keyboard. Photo courtesy of Stax Museum of American Soul Music.