Prof. John Bass Reflects on the Impact Elvis’ Legacy Is Having on Rhodes Students Through the Curb Institute

a middle-aged man playing the guitar on a purple-lit stage

Dr. John Bass of the Department of Music and director of Rhodes’ Mike Curb Institute for Music has published a commentary in The Philadelphia Inquirer titled “Lessons from Elvis on Inspiring Today’s Young People.” The Curb Institute is the steward of the house at 1034 Audubon Drive that once was owned by Presley, and Bass shares what the house has meant to Rhodes students. Over the last five years, students have been using the space to conduct research, explore creative projects, and even produce an original house concert series.

“I initially struggled for a way to incorporate this house into the mission of my college and our students’ experiences, as well as my personal career. It was a cool space and had an amazing vibe, but my students and I were busy diving into the jazz and hip-hop traditions of the city and looking under rocks for the untold Memphis music stories. Elvis was too obvious — everybody knows Elvis,” writes Bass. “But when these 18-to-21-year-old students entered Audubon and saw his pictures on the wall, he became a peer. He wasn’t a caricature anymore, he was a 21-year-old kid who was trying to be cool, trying to go against societal norms, and trying to make a difference. This is somebody college students could identify with, and it reminded me of the business we are in as educators — to inspire young people to be smart, cool, empathetic, and want to change the world. Read more