‘Stax’ Docuseries About Legendary Memphis Record Label in Works at HBO

“Ailey” filmmaker Jamila Wignot directs

(Photo by Bill Carrier Jr., courtesy of Concord and HBO)

HBO Documentary Films is in production on Stax, a multi-part documentary series exploring the Memphis-based record label Stax Records, which featured R&B stars Otis Redding, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers and Sam & Dave.

The series, which documents the meteoric rise and fall of the label, is directed by “Ailey” filmmaker Jamila Wignot, and executive produced by Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow (“OJ: Made In America”) of Laylow Pictures and Nigel Sinclair and Nicholas Ferrall of White Horse Pictures. It’s presented in association with Concord Originals, Polygram Entertainment and Warner Music Entertainment.

“In both the sound that fueled its rise and the events that triggered its demise, Stax Records manifested the soul of America,“ Edelman said in a statement. “There is no better person to bring this quintessential American story to HBO’s viewers than Jamila Wignot, whose work I’ve long admired.”

“As a lifelong fan of Stax Records, what has most inspired me about the label is its defiance,” Wignot said in a statement. “The individuals who built Stax knew their worth and had a willingness to risk everything to make something on their own terms.”

The label, also known as “Soulsville USA,” was founded in 1957 by Jim Stewart and co-owned with sibling Estelle Axton and later led by Al Bell. Its impressive roster of artists dominated the music charts in the 1960s and early 1970s before the label closed its doors in 1975.

The series will feature rare and never-before-seen archive material and will explore how race, geography, musical traditions and the challenging world of the recording industry helped shape the Stax spirit.

Executive producers are Scott Pascucci, Sophia Dilley and Michele Smith for Concord Originals; Jody Gerson and David Blackman for Universal Music Group’s Polygram Entertainment; and Charlie Cohen and Ron Broitman for Warner Music Entertainment. 

David Peck, Jeanne Elfant Festa and Cassidy Hartmann will act as co-executive producers. Wignot will also serve as a producer on the project, alongside series producer Kara Elverson. Rob Bowman, author of “Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records” is serving as a consultant on the series.