Bar-Kays celebrate 50th anniversary by giving back to Memphis

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- For five decades, fans around the world have been used to seeing the Bar-Kays on the stage performing some of their biggest hits, but when the group isn't spreading their brand of funk, soul, and R&B music, they're also spreading their support to the city they call home: Memphis.

Larry Dodson is the leader of the Bar-Kays.

"We are just glad to be able to give back, Alex. This makes us happy. If you want to know the truth, we're not doing for anything else other than we love to do it," Dodson said.

Dodson and Bar-Kays founder James Alexander say the Bar-Kays love Memphis and love giving back to it by donating their time and helping raise money for different community projects such as the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program.

"We are just happy to be a part of it, man. This is a good time of the year and we just hope to spread some joy to Memphis, Tennessee because Memphis has been really, really good to us," Dodson said.

England may have given music fans "The Fab Four" with the Beatles, but the Bar-Kays are giving Memphis what it calls its "Fab Five."

The Bar-Kays' Foundation supports five charities in Memphis through the group's live performances.

"Three years ago I got involved with the United Way, and I was so touched I came to Larry and said we need to increase our giving," Alexander said.

The Bar-Kays' Fab Five are the Down Syndrome Association, the Stax Music Academy, the United Way, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and scholarships for LeMoyne-Owen college students.

"It came out of nowhere and it is a rewarding thing to be able to give back to a community that has given us so much," Alexander said.

It's the vision of Alexander and Dodson to positively impact families affected by Down Syndrome, minority students in pursuit of higher education, and children from across the Mid-South who are overcoming illness with the help of the work being done at St. Jude, along with helping veterans and the many arms of United Way.

"St. Jude, James has sat on that board. Down Syndrome Association, my daughter has Down Syndrome. My wife has sat on that board and my son has. So, we're very close to that organization," Dodson said.

It's a musical mission from the Bar-Kays, a legendary group of musicians determined to give back to the city it calls home.

"It's just in our DNA. I'm sorry. We just love to help people," Dodson said.

The Bar-Kays 50th anniversary concert featuring George Clinton, Eddie Levert, and other celebrity guests is this Thursday at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts. The red carpet reception is at 7 and showtime is at 8. Tickets are $85 and can be bought through Ticketmaster.

WREG News Channel 3 is a proud sponsor of this event.

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