The Macon Music Story

Macon, Georgia

There are few places as deep-steeped in musical heritage as Macon, Georgia.

Founded in 1823 on the banks of the Ocmulgee River, the legend of Macon’s music scene goes even further, all the way to ancient times that still hum from the burial grounds of the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park.

No other midsize city can boast such back-to-back influence and impact on American popular music as Macon. From the tootle-toot flute melodies from noted native poet Sidney Lanier to “Tutti Fruitti’s” groundbreaking “wop-bop-a-loo-bop” of native son Little Richard, to the pioneering shape notes of Sacred Harp patriarch Raymond Hamrick to the impassioned strains of “Got-ta, Got-ta” of the King of Soul, Otis Redding, from the yodel Emmett Miller put in country music to the Allman Brothers’ uncategorized, improvosational guitar rhythms that gave the world Southern Rock, all roads lead back to Macon.

James BrownJames Brown came to Macon seeking second chance from his hard-scrabble start and recorded his first hit, “Please, Please, Please” in Macon’s WIBB radio station, which gained him his legendary career start.

Even a Macon street singer became an instrumental force in music. The Reverend Pearly Brown was a blind, roving blues guitar troubadour and evangelist who inspired an admiring Duane Allman with his bottleneck style of slide guitar. Brown would later perform as one of the first African Americans at the Grand Ole Opry, Carnegie Hall and the Newport Folk Festival.

There are few places as deep-steeped in musical heritage as Macon, Georgia.

Founded in 1823 on the banks of the Ocmulgee River, the legend of Macon’s music scene goes even further, all the way to ancient times that still hum from the burial grounds of the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park.

No other midsize city can boast such back-to-back influence and impact on American popular music as Macon. From the tootle-toot flute melodies from noted native poet Sidney Lanier to “Tutti Fruitti’s” groundbreaking “wop-bop-a-loo-bop” of native son Little Richard, to the pioneering shape notes of Sacred Harp patriarch Raymond Hamrick to the impassioned strains of “Got-ta, Got-ta” of the King of Soul, Otis Redding, from the yodel Emmett Miller put in country music to the Allman Brothers’ uncategorized, improvosational guitar rhythms that gave the world Southern Rock, all roads lead back to Macon.

James BrownJames Brown came to Macon seeking second chance from his hard-scrabble start and recorded his first hit, “Please, Please, Please” in Macon’s WIBB radio station, which gained him his legendary career start.

Even a Macon street singer became an instrumental force in music. The Reverend Pearly Brown was a blind, roving blues guitar troubadour and evangelist who inspired an admiring Duane Allman with his bottleneck style of slide guitar. Brown would later perform as one of the first African Americans at the Grand Ole Opry, Carnegie Hall and the Newport Folk Festival.

Lucinda Williams

Pioneering women are also part of the Macon music story.

African American blues artist Lucille Hegamin was born in Macon in 1894, performed at the Douglass Theatre, earned a name as an acclaimed part of the Chicago blues scene as “The Georgia Peach” and then in Harlem with her early recordings of songs like “Hard-Hearted Hannah.” Legendary singer, dancer and actress, the Grammy and Tony Award-winning Lena Horne spent part of her childhood in Macon, as well as Grammy-award winning country, blues and folk singer Lucinda Williams, who credits those formative years to witnessing Reverend Pearly Brown.

Along with these legends, the music industry flourished in Macon.

When Phil Walden, his brother Alan Walden and Otis Redding partnered to create RedWal Music, they built a rhythm and blues agency roster that included Redding, as well as hit soul acts Percy Sledge and Sam and Dave. It also created opportunity to integrate mainstream music during a time of deep-seated segregation. That music venture would later give way to Capricorn Records, the trailblazing independent record label based in Macon that launched some of the most iconic music of the south.

Macon music can still be found in nearly every genre of music.

Macon son Robert McDuffie is a world renowned violin virtuoso. Mike Mills and Bill Berry left their youths in Macon and moved to Athens, where they would meet Michael Stipe and Peter Buck to form R.E.M. Hip-hop chart topper Jay Wayne Jenkins, also known as Jeezy, has notorious Macon roots and continues to use his success to give back to the youth of where he came from. Finally, one of the most decorated country superstars of today, Jason Aldean, was born and raised in Macon, earned his singing chops in a local nightclub and later moving to Nashville, where his career catapulted to the top of the country charts and has remained multi-platinum ever since.

With legend after legend, hit after hit, and story after story, Macon’s music scene can be overwhelming. That’s why the Macon Music Trail was created.

The Macon Music Trail is an online resource and directory of Macon’s local music history, current scene and tourism opportunities. This site was created by Visit Macon to provide a wealth of information to tour, explore and experience Macon, Georgia’s greatest export, import and attraction: The Music.

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