Sometimes I forget just how much music can bring people together. I know it sounds cliche, but amazing music, like that of Otis Redding, transcends race, class, age and background, and last week proved that old adage.
From local craft beer lovers, to original Otis fans, to new music enthusiasts, to young music students learning his songs, to those just hearing him for the first time, “Celebrating 75 Years of Otis Redding” reached a wonderfully diverse group of people with a huge spectrum of events.
At Macon Beer Company’s launch of Macon Dreams, we toasted the King of Soul’s memory while folks snapped selfies with Otis’ huge image. The next night, students from across the area unveiled their Otis-inspired art at the Tubman Museum, where an Otis photography exhibit also was unveiled to the public.
On Sept. 9, the city celebrated Otis’ birthday with ice cream from Lane Southern Orchards and Dickey Farms, plus a parade with Central High School’s marching band. Sept. 10 saw close family friends mingling with VIPs from across the country at the Big “O” Ranch to chow down on Old Clinton Barbecue, Otis’ favorite. Later that night, fans of all kinds gathered at Coleman Hill Park to watch, dance and sing along to original concert footage of Otis and other Stax artists.
The Hank Wonder Trio, huge fans of Otis and supporters of the Otis Redding Foundation, flew down from Boston to play a free show for the community at Bragg Jam’s Second Sunday. And then the whole weekend wrapped up with a joyous celebration at the City Auditorium with “An Evening of Respect.”
“An Evening of Respect” itself is possibly one of the best examples of a wide cross section of music fans and artists. The exuberant St. Paul and the Broken Bones had the packed house eating out of their hands.
The stunning Andra Day was joined by the Otis Redding Foundation’s DREAM Choir for an exceptionally moving version of “Rise Up.” Macon’s hometown heroes Robert McDuffie (also an honoree, along with Dinah and Fred Gretsch) and Chuck Leavell blew us away with their effortless talent and love of Otis’ music.
Steve Cropper, Eddie Floyd and William Bell showed they still have the power to captivate. And, of course, Otis Redding III, Dexter Redding and Mark Lockett brought the house down with their Reddings reunion and Otis renditions.
People left the auditorium that night with a warm feeling, knowing that the legacy of Otis Redding lives on and continues, not only with his own catalog, but with the young musicians his music has touched.
Contact Leila Regan-Porter at firstname.lastname@example.org.