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Redding family opens Big 'O' Ranch for Otis' 75th birthday

<p>A rare glimpse into Otis Redding's life on his Jones County ranch</p>

Justin McDuffie

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Dreams to remember became a day to remember as the Celebration of Otis Redding's 75th birthday continued Saturday afternoon.

First, Stephen Tingen, the mayor of Gray, declared September 9 Otis Redding Day by the marker in downtown Gray. Then, the real party began at the place he called home.

With a caravan in tow, Karla Redding-Andrews opened the gate to the private ranch for a birthday barbeque for a few sponsors of the Otis Redding Foundation.

"To be able to let them see the memorabilia and the artifacts that mom has collected over the years...it's a special treat for them cause she doesn't do that often," said Redding-Andrews.

One of the few allowed in was lifelong fan Beth Manley

"It's something that I grew up listening to from my parents and will obviously share with my own children," said Manley.

Also among the dozens of guests was Roderick Cox -- the first person to receive funding from the Redding Foundation to follow his music dreams.

"I can look at his legacy and his dedication to his art form and realize that he gave 100 percent, and I think that inspires me," said Cox.

One thing everyone could agree on was that the spirit of Otis Redding lives on through the new wave of musicians.

"He left something for everybody to enjoy no matter whether it was rap, soul, gospel, because everybody could hear what Otis Redding was giving," said his wife Zelma Redding. "That's the kind of projection he did to the world."

She says her late husband will never be forgotten, not just because of his music, but also his heart and that is the main takeaway she wanted everyone to go home with after his birthday celebration.

"Otis Redding was one of the greatest people, kindest people, greatest talents in the world," said Redding.