The small offices at the Otis Redding Foundation are a-flurry lately. With the days swiftly counting down to Sept. 9 — when the celebrations kick off for “Celebrating 75 Years of Otis Redding” — we are busy preparing for a weekend of events that will culminate in “An Evening of Respect” on Sept. 11, the Otis Redding Foundation’s biggest fundraiser.
Hopes are high that the proceeds will make a big dent in the fundraising efforts for the Dream Academy charter school and its adjoining Otis Redding Center for Creative Arts.
As would be expected for such a monumental task, everyone’s cylinders are running on full throttle. “All hands on deck” is already a fond phrase, with no job too big or too small for our compact staff, committees, volunteers, friends and family. There are envelopes to be stuffed, set lists to be finalized, and VIP accommodations to be arranged.
Performers for “An Evening of Respect” include St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Eddie Floyd and Otis’ guitarist and writing partner, Steve Cropper. There also will be surprise celebrity appearances, plus performances by some of Macon’s own music royalty, like Robert McDuffie and Chuck Leavell — both huge supporters of the Otis Redding Foundation and its mission.
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Many Macon music fans also will be excited to see the reunion of the Reddings, featuring Otis’ sons Dexter and Otis III with ‘80s bandmate Mark Lockett. The foundation is especially proud to be showcasing our Dream Choir, giving the public just a small insight into what arts and music education has produced in our community.
Because that’s what this weekend is all about. We are honoring the legacy of the great King of Soul, bringing his incredible catalog to life with performances that span generations.
But the importance of this weekend is to remember what Otis stood for: education. For our youth. In the arts. Slowly, America seems to coming back around to the idea that music and the arts are just as important to a child’s education as those STEM subjects.
In fact, they all can be incorporated into one beautifully woven curriculum, a never-ending pattern that links geometry to drawing, physics to dance, trigonometry to rhythm, chemistry to sculpture.
All the money raised will go to further this dream — Otis’ dream.
For more information, visit OtisReddingFoundation.org/EOR.
Leila Regan-Porter is the administrative assistant at the Otis Redding Foundation, the marketing co-chair for Bragg Jam and president of the Main Street Macon board. Follow her on Twitter @theleila.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.