Summer Tour of Otis
Make your summer right by visiting important landmarks of Otis Redding’s life! These landmarks are mostly in Redding’s hometown of Macon, Ga. where the Redding family moved early in Otis’ life and set the precedent for his influential career. These landmarks include the mini-museum, the Gray Memorial Marker, the Douglass Theatre, the Otis Redding Foundation, the Macon City Auditorium, the Otis statue in Gateway Park, and the exhibit at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro. The only landmark outside of Georgia is the Stax Museum located in Memphis, Tenn. So don’t end your summer without exploring the life of the “King of Soul” himself, Otis Redding, through these beautiful and informational landmarks of musical history.
Here’s some interesting information of the stops on your “Summer Tour of Otis” trip:
Otis Redding Foundation
The Otis Redding Foundation was founded by Otis Redding’s wife Zelma Redding in 2007 in her husband’s honor. Its mission is “to empower, enrich, and motivate all young people through programs involving music, writing, and instrumentation.” The Foundation has many programs such as the Otis Redding Center for Creative Arts, the Otis Music Camp, the DREAM choir, and scholarships. Included is a mini-museum of Otis Redding’s artifacts which includes his many awards. Located in the beautiful downtown Macon, this landmark is essential to visit for any Otis Redding music fan.
Location: 339 Cotton Ave, Macon, GA 31201
Gray Historic Marker
The Gray Historic Marker is an interactive memorial marker that plays Redding's music and honors the Middle Georgia singer. The marker is a 7-foot square sign designed to look like an album cover and plays 15 of Otis’s most iconic songs. This landmark undeniably adds to the legacy of Otis Redding and should be viewed by music lovers and fans alike.
Location: 106 W. Clinton St., Gray, GA 31032
Read More about this famous landmark: https://www.macon.com/news/local/article35774292.html
The Douglass Theater was established in 1911 by Charles Henry Douglass, a local African-American business owner and was the place that put Otis Redding on the map to stardom. He performed on “The Teenage Party,” a live broadcast talent show organized by DJ Hamp “King Bee” Swain, where Phil Walden heard him. And as they say, the rest was history…
Location: 355 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Macon, GA 31201
Macon City Auditorium
The Macon City Auditorium, built in 1925, held over 4,500 people in 1968 for Otis Redding’s funeral. Although the building only had room for 3,000, people flocked to Redding’s funeral due to the monumental impact he had on the music world at that time. Jerry Wexler, the influential producer at Atlantic Records, gave the eulogy. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this landmark is sure to be one that will be remembered.
Location: 415 1st St, Macon, GA 31201
Otis Redding Statue
The Otis Redding Statue was unveiled in 2002 at Gateway Park on Riverside Drive in Macon, depicting him “sitting on the dock of the bay.” The park first opened in 2001 and hosts many events. It even has a trail through the park as well. Combining the elements of nature with the King of Soul is sure to be an interesting experience.
Location: MLK Jr. Blvd. at Riverside Dr., Macon, GA 31210
Otis Redding Exhibit at Georgia Southern University
Located at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, this exhibit takes it one step further and analyzes the life of Otis Redding, from his on stage persona as the “King of Soul,” “Rockhouse Redding,” and “The Big O” from behind the scenes as a Georgia native, farmer, philanthropist, and devoted family man who valued and drew from his deep roots in the state. From an investigation into Redding’s family tree to the how his legacy continues to live on through the works of the Otis Redding Foundation, this exhibit is one you wouldn’t want to miss.
Location: Georgia Southern University, 2142 Southern Drive, Rosenwald Building, Statesboro, GA 30458
Here’s a video of Georgia Southern University students discussing their experience with creating the exhibit: https://youtu.be/nnIBXbzEScs
Some more photos from the Georgia Southern exhibit reception: https://photos.georgiasouthern.edu/Georgia-Southern-University-2018/College-of-Arts-Humanities/History-Department/2019-Otis-Redding-Exhibit-Reception/
Otis Redding Memorial Bridge
The Otis Redding Memorial Bridge commemorates the famed singer in his hometown of Jones County. The bridge was dedicated to Redding in 2017 and is very close to the city of Macon, Ga.
Location: over Highway 11 in Jones County with an additional bridge over the Ocmulgee River, Macon, GA 31201
To learn more about the dedication ceremony for the bridge: https://41nbc.com/2017/09/23/otis-redding-memorial-bridge-unveiled-jones-county/
Otis Redding Drive
Otis Redding Drive is a street named after the beloved singer. Set in a rural area, this landmark is a must for those wanting to escape the city life with Otis Redding.
Landmark outside of Georgia:
Stax Museum of American Soul Music
The Stax Museum of American Soul Music, located in Memphis, Tennessee, showcases the history of Stax Records created by siblings Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton in 1957. Otis Redding arrived in 1962 to record and quickly became their biggest star. However, his death along with a number of events led to the downfall of the once influential American record label. This landmark, being a replica of the Stax studio, contains exhibits on Stax artists and also has a music academy, fostering the careers of tomorrow’s musicians.
Location: 926 E McLemore Ave, Memphis, TN 38126