Central High School dedicates Otis Redding mural

jmink@macon.comMay 15, 2014 

When students walk down one of Central High School’s hallways, a series of faces, including late pop star Michael Jackson, look down on them.

Now, Macon music legend Otis Redding is among them.

The school Thursday dedicated its Redding mural that was painted by freshmen art students.

It took about one month to paint the giant mural on 54 tiles, said Mike Gillies, art instructor at Central. While all of his classes’s murals have been important, this one was extra special because of Redding’s connection to Macon, he said.

As a band played some of Redding’s biggest hits, the late musician’s daughter paid tribute to him and to the hard work that went into the art project.

Karla Redding-Andrews thanked the students “just for the love you continue to show Otis Redding and my family,” she said. “We’re all about education and you all, the children, who want to go into music.”

Sitting directly under the mural, Redding’s widow, Zelma, gave a tearful message to the students.

“Follow your dreams,” she said. “You can do it.”

Interim Bibb County school Superintendent Steve Smith remembers the first time he heard a Redding song.

He was visiting a friend, who had purchased one of the soul singer’s records. Smith said he immediately became a fan.

“We’re proud of the students and the staff,” he said, “and what you’ve done to recognize a person who has brought so much recognition to Macon, Georgia.”

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 744-4331.

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