As the four Curb Institute seniors—Alice Fugate, Sarah Johnson, Cam Maxwell, and Patrick Smith—look forward to their graduation in May, we asked them to look back as well, and reflect on how they got involved with the Institute and what their time with the Curb Institute has meant to them. The paths of each of the fellows have been varied; they started their time with the Curb Institute at different stages in their college careers and contributed different skills and interests to our work. Despite these differences, however, common themes unite their narratives. The Curb Institute has offered an intellectual cohort, a group of people with similar interests and similar goals but varied skills that creates an exciting network for scholarly and creative work. Each fellow has both learned and contributed, advancing the work of the Institute while also developing his or her own understanding and appreciation of Memphis and the music created in it. Please take a minute to read each fellow’s story and join us all in thanking them for their hard work, their dedication, and their love of Memphis music that makes the work of the Curb Institute possible.
Text by Sean Moore
When I joined the Curb Institute my sophomore year, I saw it as an opportunity to combine my passions for music and writing—a way to learn how to write about music and learn practical writing and communication skills in a real-world setting. Working on the Research and Writing team since sophomore year and being a part of the Leadership Team my senior year has taught me practical writing and administrative skills and also how to work with a lot of very different creative people. Taking the Curb Institute class led me to apply to the Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies Fellowship in the summer of 2016. I was accepted and spent that summer, and every semester since, researching and writing about the history of Elvis Presley’s first house that he owned in Memphis. The Curb Institute manages this house. That project has been an amazing opportunity for me and has helped me learn how to research and think critically about cultural histories, how to work with adults (I’ve conducted a lot of interviews), and has helped me to explore my own writing voice in a way that I don’t get to do while writing literary analyses or fictional stories for my major. The Curb Institute has allowed me to work with an incredible professor like Dr. Bass, who is passionate about education, music, Memphis, and his students’ creative work. It has allowed me to work with enterprising students who inspire me to pursue my own creative and professional goals every day. It’s made me love Memphis and Memphis music, and for all of this I am so thankful.
I came into the Curb Institute last semester after wanting to be involved my whole college career. I finally had some room in my schedule to be more fully committed, and the prospect of getting hands-on experience writing Memphis music content for a blog and newsletter was exciting! I liked the combination of abstract thought and practical application that the Music and Community in Memphis class offered. Working as a Curb Fellow this semester has also been a super exciting and fulfilling experience. I really enjoyed working with the Research and Writing team; I got to work with two of my closest friends since freshman year (Alice and Patrick) and meet new awesome people (Sean, Savannah, and Harlan). We work really well as a team, and our meetings were always slightly delirious and entertaining! I think working at the Curb Institute taught me a lot about Memphis music history and the Memphis music scene right now. I am definitely more aware of the vast amount of history Memphis has with music and its eclectic musical offerings today. The Curb Institute offered me the opportunity to interact with music in the community, not just on campus. I’m glad I was able to end my college career with such a creative and fulfilling experience!
My path to the Curb Institute wasn’t very straightforward at all. As a freshman, I heard Dr. Bass give a talk about it and because I love music, it quickly got my attention. I brushed all possibilities of becoming a part of it to the back of my mind because I did not yet think of myself as a musician. However, through years of making beats and building relationships with other musicians on campus, I began to gain clout and Brad McCullough and I collaborated on his senior recital. Unknown to me, I gained Dr. Bass’s attention, and he asked me to be a part of the Institute—I quickly said yes. This proved to be one of the better decisions in my life because I have had fun getting to have a hand in turning the Curb Institute into a creative hub where students can come to explore their talents!
I first got involved with the Curb Institute my freshman year. Dr. Bass had sent me an email asking me if I would be interested in applying for his new RSA position in digital asset management. I knew practically nothing about Memphis, didn’t know who Mike Curb was, and had never managed an archive before. Looking back, I'm glad I took the opportunity and decided to work with the Curb Institute—it has been an integral part of my college experience. Aside from the invaluable work experience and archival training, the Curb Institute has been a place of connections and friendship for me. I have come to feel a deep sense of connection to the music of Memphis and the rich history of the city. My work with the Stax Museum and archiving Curb projects has been unforgettable. As I go forward, I will treasure these experiences. But even more so than the experiences are the friendships. The Curb Institute has brought so many diverse personalities and interests together under a common pursuit of creative and scholarly engagement with Memphis. I have made lifelong friendships and had the opportunity to work closely with a group of creative individuals who are inquisitive and care deeply for Memphis. My time at Rhodes has been shaped in such a positive way by the Institute. As we go forward, I will carry these memories with me fondly far beyond the walls of Rhodes and into a bright future.