MACON, Ga. — Friday would have been Otis Redding’s 81st birthday. In his honor, his family is throwing him a birthday bash to remember.
But before there was the titan of music and soul, he was just a boy from Dawson, Georgia, who began to call Macon home shortly after he turned 2-years-old.
He began his career as a singer and musician in the choir of the Vineville Baptist Church. As a teenager, he started to compete in the Douglass Theatre’s talent shows, but after winning 15 times straight, Redding was no longer allowed to compete.
Redding went on to write iconic songs such as “These Arms of Mine,” “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” as well as smash hits like “Respect” and “Try A Little Tenderness.”
“He certainly has a vast catalog of music that was great back then and remains great today,” Redding’s daughter and Executive Director of the Otis Redding Foundation, Karla Redding-Andrews, said.
She says her father knew he was going to be a star.
“He would say ‘one day you’re going to hear me on the radio,’ and lo’ and behold, look at what he did by the time he was 19-20 years old,” she said.
Her father became a legend at a young age, and his music took over the industry for several decades, beginning in the 60s and continuing today.
He received nominations in three categories by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. The most significant year of his career was destined to be 1968, with performances scheduled at New York’s Philharmonic Hall and Washington’s Constitution Hall.
He was posthumously inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1981 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. In 1999, he was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award.
Redding’s daughter came onto Central Georgia Focus with 13WMAZ’s Raymond Tubb to discuss her father’s legacy.
They both spoke about how Redding’s music inspired countless artists when he was alive, to the present day and will continue to inspire well into the future.
“Absolutely. He still influences people today, from Kanye West to Jay-Z, a number of artists that still pay so much respect to him, and we couldn’t be more proud of that even here we are 50 plus years later,” Redding-Andrews said.
Tubb and Redding- Andrews discussed how artists like Janis Joplin and Rodd Stewart talk about how Otis Redding made them into the artists they became.
Redding’s daughter says that her father knew how to control a stage to make an electrifying performance.
“You know every song that he sang was so full of emotion and so powerful you could almost feel it in your bones when he was singing,” she said.
Her favorite live performance from her father what at the Monterey International Pop Festival.
“He just commanded that audience of people who were here to see Jimi Hendricks, The Who, these artists that were in this rock and roll realm, where dad was strictly R&B, but dad just commanded that stage,” she said,
Redding-Andrews believes that this performance catapulted Redding’s career to the next level.
But above being an iconic musician and beloved member of Macon’s and the world’s music history, Otis Redding was a father.
“He loved to farm, he loved to swim, he loved ice cream,” Redding-Andrews said.
She remembers buying gallons of ice cream with her father and going on the road to his various shows with her family.
“I have such good memories of him and the kind person he was. And obviously, those things mean the most because that is all that I hear as I travel throughout Macon and throughout the world what kind of a person he was,” Redding-Andrews said.
Redding passed away on Dec 10, 1967, in a plane crash over Wisconsin at 26.
The kind and generous legacy of Otis Redding lives on in the community through The Otis Redding Foundation.
Redding-Andrews says her father knew that he didn’t have the opportunity in his life to finish school, so he often gave back to others through scholarships and continuing education programs.
“And giving back to make sure that kids understood or understand still today, the importance of education and how that pairs with music and the arts,” she said.
The foundation’s work is not just about singing but all aspects of the arts like writing, managing, instrumentalists and more.
The goal is simple:
“Just to be able to touch the life of a kid and enhance their self-confidence to know that they can do this,” Redding-Andrews said.