The Otis Redding Foundation proudly presented the 2nd Annual King of Soul Music Festival, two days dedicated to celebrating the enduring influence of the legendary soul singer, Otis Redding. The festival, held on September 8th and 9th, 2023, at the Macon City Auditorium and Capitol Theatre, delivered an unforgettable tribute to Otis Redding's musical legacy and his profound impact on the world.
The performances at the 2nd Annual King of Soul Music Festival were nothing short of spectacular. The stage was ablaze with a mesmerizing array of talent, each act delivering a passionate and soul-stirring performance that resonated deeply with the audience. From the opening notes to the final encore, the festival was a celebration of soul music in its purest form. Friday's "Evening of Respect,” hosted by media personality/actress Symphony Thompson, featured Orchestra Noir, who paid homage to Otis Redding with stellar renditions of band favorites including "Can’t Turn You Loose" and "Dreams to Remember." The stage lit up with outstanding performances by Anderson East for "Down in the Valley" and "Ole Man Trouble," followed by the legendary Taj Mahal's powerful collaboration with the orchestra on "Amen" and "I’ve Been Loving You Too Long." R&B artist, Rebel Rae, further enriched the evening with soulful renditions of "Georgia" and "RESPECT."
The event's second half saw soul-stirring singer, Jac Ross, take the stage for electrifying performances of "Satisfaction," "That’s How Strong My Love Is," and "These Arms of Mine." The night reached its crescendo when Dexter Redding took the stage with a surprise performance of “Try A Little Tenderness” followed by a dramatic finale, as all guest artists joined forces, for heartwarming renditions of "My Girl" and "(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay."
The "Evening of Respect" also featured well-deserved honors. Jermaine Dupri, renowned songwriter, producer, DJ, and entrepreneur, received the prestigious Otis and Zelma Redding Award of RESPECT for his exceptional contributions to the music industry. The Otis Redding Foundation Dream Team, along with their coaches and alumni campers of the Otis Music Camp, and the world famous Rap Room performed an inspiring musical tribute to Jermaine.
Conductor Roderick Cox was recognized with the Otis Redding Foundation DREAM Award for his unwavering dedication to nurturing young music artists through scholarship funding and mentoring. Additionally, Benjy Griffith was honored with the inaugural Otis Redding III Award of Philanthropy for his outstanding support and encouragement of youth in Macon-Bibb County.
The atmosphere was electric, with the crowd fully immersed in the music, swaying to the soulful beats and singing along to the timeless classics. Each artist brought a unique flavor to the stage, offering a diverse range of styles within the soul genre. From raw, gritty performances that harked back to the roots of soul, to smoother, contemporary interpretations, there was something for everyone. Saturday's "Big 'O' Homecoming Show" at the Capitol Theatre, hosted by Charles Davis, Morning Host of 100.9 “The Creek” and Justin Andrews, Director of Special Projects and Outreach for the Foundation, continued the festivities with soul-stirring performances from singer/songwriter Joshua “Jackson” Griffith, whose inspirations draw heavily from Otis Redding. Soul-singer and songwriter Kendra Morris, along with the captivating Alanna Royale, added their own unique flavor to the evening. Not only did the festival showcase established legends, but it also introduced emerging talents, providing a platform for the future stars of soul music. The seamless transitions between acts and the carefully curated lineup demonstrated a deep appreciation for the rich history and evolving landscape of soul.
On Sunday, September 10, 2023 the Knight Foundation awarded the Otis Redding Center for the Arts a generous $1.5 million grant for the integration of digital technology, propelling the center into a new era of innovation and accessibility.
Furthermore, the festival received high-profile proclamations, underlining its significance in the cultural landscape. Governor Brian Kemp, Mayor Lester Miller, and State Representative Dr. James Beverly all bestowed honors upon the event, acknowledging its profound impact and contribution to the world of soul music. These commendations further solidified the festival's position as a beacon of artistic excellence and a cultural treasure.
The Otis Redding Foundation's mission is to empower, enrich, and motivate young people through programs involving music, writing, and instrumentation. Since its inception in 2007, the foundation has tirelessly worked towards fulfilling Otis Redding's philanthropic vision of enabling and enlightening young individuals to pursue their dreams.
For more information about the Otis Redding Foundation and its programs, please visit https://otisreddingfoundation.org.
About the Otis Redding Center for the Arts:
The Otis Redding Center for the Arts, set to open in 2024, will provide a dynamic space for students ages 5-18 to explore their passion for music and the arts. Offering private music lessons in various disciplines, the center is staffed by Macon's finest musicians, dedicated to nurturing young talent and encouraging them to achieve their best.
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