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'This is the future': Former Otis Redding bandmate has high hopes for new performing arts center

Newton Collier remembers playing his trumpet at the Apollo Theater with Redding and his mentor. He wants more young musicians to have the same experiences.

MACON, Ga. — The Otis Redding Foundation is celebrating the next steps in building the Otis Redding Center for the Arts after a 'yes' vote by Macon-Bibb's planning and zoning board.

Last week, the foundation broke ground for the new performing arts center. Newton Collier used to play his trumpet alongside Redding, and he has a lot of stories.

"Only thing I ever heard was, 'If you play the Apollo, you'd better be good, or you'd better know a good joke afterwards, because if you mess up, they're on you like white on rice,'" he remembered.

Collier is a Macon native, and he has more stories, but he told us he couldn't possibly share them all. He grew up in Tindall Heights right across the street from the practice site of Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers.

"I could always listen to them play," he remembered.

One of the bandmembers mentored him on the trumpet. A few years later, there he was, playing the Apollo with his mentor and the King of Soul: Otis Redding.

Collier wants more young musicians to have the same experience. He hopes they'll gain that at the Redding Center.

"This is the future. The future is here, because it's in these kids that are out here trying to play," Collier said.

The "future" has a lot of educational experiences for students, including practice rooms, recording studios and a small amphitheater for live performances.

"With that institution coming in, and the foundation, that's what we need. That's what Macon needs. This'll bring more kids together," Collier said.

They plan to open sometime in late 2023.

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