The Malaco story is one of the greatest, and certainly the most improbable, of any independent record company in the history of American music. Record industry wisdom would suggest that starting a label in Jackson, Mississippi was a losing proposition from the word go. Yet, that is exactly what Tommy Couch, Sr., Mitchell Malouf and Wolf Stephenson decided to do in 1967. Fifty years later, Malaco is the largest and most important black gospel label in the world. In the 1980s it was also the primary exponent of the soul blues genre that then ruled southern black radio. By that point Louisiana record man Stewart Madison had bought out Mitchell Malouf. A decade later Tommy Couch Jr. joined the business, becoming president in 2012. While many record companies struggled with the digital revolution, having acquired Savoy, Onyx, Apollo and Atlanta International Records over the years Malaco had amassed a catalogue that provided the basis for streaming, sampling and licensing opportunities galore. A half century since its humble beginnings, Malaco remains the longest standing fully independent record company in American music history. The tiny upstart label that was affectionately dubbed The Last Soul Company in the 1980s has managed to outlast Motown, Atlantic, Chess, Stax, Sun, Ace and all the rest of the great indi labels that recorded and marketed the majority of great African American music. Based on dozens of interviews, in The Last Soul Company Grammy Award winning writer Rob Bowman weaves together the tale of a half century of Malaco soul and gospel productions, discussing the careers and the hit records of such seminal Malaco-based artists as Bobby Blue Bland, Z.Z. Hill, Johnnie Taylor, the Jackson Southernaires, the Mississippi Mass Choir, the Caravans, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, LaShun Pace, Rev. F.C. Barnes and dozens of others. In the process, Bowman tells the story of a record company that, against all odds, continues to make black music primarily for black people. About the author: Rob Bowman has been writing professionally about rhythm and blues, rock, country, jazz and gospel for close to 50 years. Nominated for six Grammy Awards, in 1996 Bowman won the Grammy in the Best Album Notes category for a 47,000 word monograph he penned to accompany a 10-CD box set that he also co-produced, The Complete Stax/Volt Singles Volume 3: 1972-1975 (Fantasy Records). In total Bowman has produced, compiled and/or written liner notes for over 250 compact disc sets. He is also the author of Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records (Schirmer Books), winner of the 1998 ASCAP-Deems Taylor and ARSC Awards for Excellence in Music Research. In 2013 Soulsville U.S.A. was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. On top of his popular press and liner note work, Bowman played a seminal role in the founding and creation of The Stax Museum of American Soul Music (opened in Memphis in 2003), wrote the four-part television documentary series The Industry, has co-produced, conducted interviews and research for numerous music documentaries and has helped pioneer the study and teaching of popular music in the world of academia. In the past few years Bowman has worked on box sets for Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Jackie Shane, synth pioneer John Mills-Cockell and Rush. He is also slated to work for the United Nations on a film on Antiguan calypso for the country s national museum. His latest book, The Flyer Vault: 150 Years of Toronto Concert History, was co-authored with Daniel Tate. A tenured professor at York University in Toronto, Bowman regularly lectures on popular music around the world. In February 2020, Bowman was honored with the Keeping the Blues Alive Lifetime Achievement Award by the Blues Foundation.


192 pages

The Last Soul Company: The Malaco Records Story