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The Life and Legacy of Otis Redding

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One of the most significant aspects of Macon, Georgia, located 84 miles due south from Atlanta, is its rich music heritage.

It is a bit unusual to find a U.S. city of this size that has churned out such a large number of legends across a vast array of genres. Yet Macon proudly boasts an admirable A-list of iconic entertainers encompassing Gospel, Rock, Country, Classical, Blues, and perhaps one of its most distinctive sounds, Southern Rock.

Think names like Little Richard, the Marshall Tucker Band, Lena Horne, Eddie Kirkland, Joey Stuckey, Young Jeezy, Robert McDuffie and Johnny Jenkins, just to name a few.

It’s important to note that many of these performers forged a name for themselves during a very turbulent time in our history against the backdrop of the tail end of the Jim Crow era in the 1960s. Yet their music slowly but surely helped to break down those segregated racial barriers, bringing audiences together under the universal beats, melodies, and messages of life.

What’s different about the Macon music scene back in the day, is that those racial barriers were more like cultural lines painted on the street that some people naturally crossed over to embrace all that Macon had to offer.

Consequently, it’s no wonder that today the city’s moniker is “The Song and Soul of the South.”

Among those who was lovingly embraced by blacks and whites alike and forever changed the course of music history was Otis Redding.

Born in Dawson, Georgia but raised in Macon, Otis life and legacy is the focus of the Otis Redding Foundation and Otis Redding Mini-Museum. Started by Otis’ wife, Zelma, in 2007 in honor of Otis’ 70th birthday, the foundation is run by Otis’ daughter, Karla Redding- Andrews (who was five years old when her father died). Their mission is to empower, enrich, and motivate all young people through programs involving music, writing and instrumentation, in addition to spearheading several collaborative philanthropic projects, including providing music scholarships for young musicians and their annual Otis Music Camp.

“Otis always had a very philanthropic nature, even before he became famous and was lucky to have great support from the Macon community,” says Redding-Andrews. “Now there are so many young, up-and-coming artists that we want to help them make names for themselves and give them an opportunity for employment, particularly if choosing to stay here in Macon.”

Attractions - Otis Redding (4)

The foundation exhibits provide great insight into Redding’s songwriting, producing and singing talents and career that yielded 13 albums and 15 Top 10 Hits.

Oddly enough, his biggest hit, “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay,” skyrocketed to number one on the music charts the year after his untimely death in a plane crash in 1967.

But today, both residents and visitors alike can sway to the tune at the Otis Redding Statue at Ocmulgee Heritage Trail Gateway Park. Here a poignant, life-size bronze statue of Redding crooning with his guitar, pen sheet music at his side, near the banks of the Ocmulgee River as well as the bridge named in his honor.

This is just the beginning of all that Macon has to offer.

Check out these great things to see, do and eat in and around Macon!

Macon Overview

Macon’s Black History

Rock Candy Tours

The Big House: The Allman Brothers Band Museum







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