Where Otis Redding’s Legacy Continues.
Consider the Otis Redding Foundation the official headquarters of Redding’s lasting legacy. This legacy is found in his music, his philanthropy and his family, all of which can be found at the Foundation office and Otis Redding Center for Creative Arts, where Redding’s lasting presence can be felt throughout the downtown landscape. The Foundation also serves as a mini-museum, holding many Otis Redding treasures that can only be seen here.
Founded and operated by his family and guided by an active board of directors, the Otis Redding Foundation’s mission is to empower, enrich and motivate all young people through programs involving music, writing and instrumentation. Signature programs include the Otis Redding Center for Creative Arts, the Otis Music Camp, Camp DREAM and the DREAM choir. The Foundation is open to the public during the week and also has official Otis Redding merchandise and music available for purchase.
The Otis Redding Foundation’s mission is to empower, enrich, and motivate all young people through programs involving music, writing and instrumentation. Each partnership and program sponsored since its inception in 2007 supports the philanthropic commitment of Otis Redding to empower and enlighten all young people to fulfill their dreams.
Born in Dawson, Georgia, Otis Redding, Jr. and his family moved to Macon when he was a young child. The son of a minister, his career as a singer and musician began in the church choir. He attended Macon’s Ballard Hudson High School and participated in the school band. As a teenager, he began to compete in the Douglass Theatre talent shows, winning consistently until he was no longer allowed to compete.
Otis was also a singing member of Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers before launching his solo career. It was in Macon where he met his manager, a young Phil Walden, who was building a business as a booking agent for R&B acts. Together, they worked together to launch Phil Walden Artist & Promotions, a trusted management and booking agency for R&B artists, like Redding, who were integrating mainstream music and its audiences.
Just as Redding’s trajectory began, Walden had recently graduated Mercer University and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army through a deferred service program. Walden recruited his younger brother Alan, then a sophomore at Mercer, to join the company and co-manage Redding.
Upon Walden’s return, Redding was on his way up the charts and blazing a tour schedule that would lead to arenas, the Apollo, overseas and eventually the turning point Monterey Pop Festival.
By 1965, Redding and the Walden brothers co-founded the Redwal Music Company that would not only help launch the career of Redding but other R&B artists like Percy Sledge, Sam & Dave and more. This unlikely business partnership, which happened during a time of deep-seated southern segregation, paved the way for a soul music movement, which changed the course of American music with an influence that can still be heard today.
Redding’s “Pain in My Heart” and “These Arms of Mine,” followed by additional songs like “Try a Little Tenderness,” “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember,” “Shake,” “Mr. Pitiful,” “FaFaFa,” “Love Man,” “Respect,” covers of “Hard to Handle” and “Satisfaction,” and so many more, paved his way to legendary stardom as the King of Soul and one of America’s greatest music exports.
But Redding wouldn’t live long enough to witness his biggest hit. His life was tragically cut short at the age of 26 when the twin-engine airplane, carrying him and most of the members of the backing band, the Bar-Kays, crashed on December 10, 1967 on the way to Madison, Wisconsin.
The song he had recorded just days before the crash, “Dock of the Bay,” would become a blockbuster hit for Redding, released a month after his tragic death. The song has since sold millions of copies, won two posthumous Grammy awards and become an instant classic and signature song of Redding’s.
Today, you can feel the energy of Redding’s lasting impact when you visit the Otis Redding Foundation headquarters, hear lessons taking place at the adjacent Otis Redding Center for Creative Arts or attend any of the inspiring public performances by Otis Music Camp students, who, alongside their music mentors, coaches and Redding family members, continue what Redding started, right here in Macon, Georgia.
About the Surrounding Geography.
The Otis Redding Foundation located on historic Cotton Avenue, in the heart of Downtown Macon’s business and entertainment districts. It is within walking proximity to numerous bars and restaurants, art galleries, the Hargray Capitol Theatre, the Grand Opera House and pre- and post-show events. Other music landmarks found close to the Otis Redding Foundation include the Library Ballroom, the Downtown Grill and the Macon City Auditorium. Also, within nearby proximity, you can find two of Redwal Music’s original locations through the self-guided Macon Music History brochure or on a guided Rock Candy Tour.