Tubman Museum hosts first live concert

The first “Live at the Tubman” event at Macon’s Tubman Museum began with an appropriate tune: Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ on the Dock (of the Bay).”

The live concert by Pamela Bowman-Hill and her husband, Wilkie Hill, is the first of many to be held on the third Thursday of each month, organizers said.

“It’s an added attraction to bring people to the museum who would not normally come ... and Macon is a music city,” said Larry Burney, of Forsyth, one of the Tubman’s board members.

The museum, which focuses on African-American art, history and culture, has been open in its new building at 310 Cherry St. for two months since moving from its smaller location on Walnut Street. In that time, the museum has grown to 500 memberships, a 150-percent increase from before the move, said Executive Director Andy Ambrose.

In addition, the museum hosted about 2,500 people the weekend it opened May 16 and has averaged about 2,500 visitors per month since.

But museum officials want to see it become more than just a museum.

“We want to get beyond just the normal offerings of the museum,” Ambrose said.

More than two dozen people gathered in the museum’s sunlit rotunda Thursday to listen to original songs written by Wilkie Hill. Hill and his wife performed others written and originally performed by the likes of Redding, India Arie and Tracy Chapman.

The couple’s focus on gospel, R&B and soul selections fits with another goal of the musical series sponsored by iHeart Media, Ambrose said.

“What we want to do is feature some of the music that’s really been influenced by African-American artists,” he said.

Beyond that, organizers hope the performances serve as a chance for Macon’s professional community to get together and network in a relaxed setting. Because of that, the acts will be geared to a specific crowd, said Terrance Bibb, iHeart’s director for urban programming.

“It also gives us an opportunity to provide some live music for the adult segment that is looking for that,” Bibb said.

To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331 or find him on Twitter@MTJTimm.