DMI All Access Series launches with Malaco founders

Delta Music Institute, a music industry studies program at Delta State University, is set to launch its DMI All Access series, beginning with guest Tommy Couch, co-founder of Malaco Records, on Monday, October 3 at 6:00 pm in Studio A at the DMI. DMI All Access is planned to be a series of open forums and lectures throughout the academic year featuring industry professionals from various areas of the music business.

Tommy Couch started Malaco Records, “The Last Soul Company,” as a pocket-change enterprise in the early 1960s with fellow college student Wolf Stephenson to book bands for fraternity dances at the University of Mississippi. After graduation, Couch opened shop in Jackson, Mississippi as Malaco Attractions with brother-in-law Mitchell Malouf (Malouf + Couch = Malaco). Wolf Stephenson joined them in promoting concerts by Herman’s Hermits, the Who, the Animals, and others.

In 1967 the company opened a recording studio in a building that remains the home of Malaco Records. The company began producing master recordings, and licensed their early recordings with established labels for national distribution. Between 1968 and 1970, Capitol Records released six singles and a Grammy-nominated album by legendary bluesman Mississippi Fred McDowell. Deals for other artists were concluded with ABC, Mercury, and Bang.

The Malaco recording of Dorothy Moore’s “Misty Blue” earned gold records around the world, peaking at #2 R&B and #3 pop in the USA, and #5 in England. This was followed by thirteen chart records and five Grammy nominations for Moore by 1980.

Clearly the dominant contemporary southern blues label, Malaco purchased the gospel division of Savoy Records in 1986 and became the preeminent black gospel company in North America. The Savoy acquisition brought a vast catalog of classic recordings dating back decades, including albums by Shirley Caesar, Rev. James Cleveland, Albertina Walker, The Caravans, Inez Andrews, The Georgia Mass Choir, and The Florida Mass Choir.

Under the leadership of Tommy Couch, Malaco Records continues to define the state of contemporary southern rhythm and blues, soul, and gospel.

Tommy Couch will discuss a great chapter in Mississippi’s musical history on Monday, October 3 at 6:00 pm in Studio A of the DMI. The DMI All Access series, hosted by Steve Azar, is open to the public at no charge.

The Delta Music Institute is an independent center of study under the College of Arts & Sciences at Delta State University, offering a B.S. degree in Music Industry Studies. The focus of the DMI is to provide students with a broad and thorough education in the technological, creative, and business areas of the music and entertainment industry. For information, contact (662) 846-4579 or visit

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