The Otis Redding Foundation comes together to create an arts center

The center is intended to hold programs for students aged 3 to 18, including music education classes, learning labs, and a performance stage.

MACON, Ga. — Members of Otis Redding’s family and the Macon community gathered to dedicate the new Otis Redding Center for the Arts Friday morning.

The Otis Redding Foundation celebrated the start of their 15,000 square foot building.

The center is intended to hold programs for students aged 3 to 18, including music education classes, learning labs, and a performance stage.

It will be located at Cotton Avenue and Cherry Street, a short walk from the current Otis Redding Museum.

For years, the Otis Redding Foundation has inspired young people to explore the arts.

Dakari Williams, also known as the Artist DKOMXwas the DJ for the event.

Williams says he is a former Otis Redding Foundation camper. From age 12 to 17 he participated as a camper, but in recent years he has been a camp leader.

Williams says the foundation helped him become the man he is today.

“Because of the Otis Redding Foundation, I go to an HBCU, I go to FAMU,” he says.

It also helped shape his career as an artist.

“I’ve opened for big name artists like Lil Baby, MoneyBagg Yo, Big Boi and Pastor Troy,” adds Williams.

He also found inspiration through the examples of Otis Redding.

“It inspired me to keep real honesty to myself, because that’s what Otis had, so basically I try to keep that with all my music and reach as many people as possible,” he adds.

Through the music center, Karla says the Redding Foundation hopes to nurture more artists like Williams.

“I know it’s so, so important to my dad, as he looks down. And [he] is so proud to inspire my mom to instill in all of us to do the right thing,” she says.

And she says the right thing to do is, “Care for the people in your community. Not everyone can experience the things that everyone else experiences, and we want to be accessible to all people from all walks of life.”

Karla adds that she hopes all children and families will benefit from the state-of-the-art facility, and Williams agrees.

“My greatest hope is that a child can come here every day after school and create, create, create, create. As much as he can. If he feels something in his heart, he can say it .out,” he says.

The Redding Foundation hopes to see the doors of its center open within 12 to 18 months.

During the ceremony, Macon Bibb County awarded the family a proclamation declaring September 9 and 10, 2022, as Zelma and Otis Redding’s weekend.

Karla says she appreciates the inclusion of her mother Zelma, as she was instrumental in establishing the center.

The weekend is full of celebrations for the King of Soul.

Friday night at 7 p.m., the foundation is hosting a red carpet event at the Grand Opera House.

The concert will feature Grammy-winning pianist Robert Glasper and Mickey Guyton.

Saturday night, also at 7 p.m., the foundation is hosting its “Big ‘O’ Homecoming” at the Hargray Capitol Theater. Featured performers include Kendra Morris, The Monophonics and War and Treaty.

DKOMX is also ready to perform.

William E. Bennett