Middle Georgia music fans will have a special treat on Saturday night when the son of a rhythm and blues legend plays his first-ever concert in Forsyth.
Macon native and soul musician Otis Redding III is teaming up with well-known gospel singer T. Graham Brown to hold an American Music Celebration at the Monroe County Fine Arts Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets for the event are $20 and are available at monroefinearts.org.
Redding III, who said he plays numerous shows in Europe each year (primarily England and Holland), said it’s “really awesome” to get to play a concert so close to his Macon home. Redding III, who played New York City’s famed venues Apollo Theatre and Carnegie Hall earlier this year, said he just got home from playing a concert in Portland, Maine. He said he’s always most at home playing in front of an American audience but likened Monroe County’s year-and-a-half old Fine Arts Center to many of the intimate venues he plays in Europe, such as Amsterdam’s Q Factory.
“Forsyth, Ga. has to be really proud,” Redding III said of the Fine Arts Center. “It is definitely a gem. It’s just a perfect place to hear good music.”
Redding III’s legendary father produced hits like “Try a Little Tenderness” and “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” prior to his untimely death at 26 years old in a plane crash in 1967. But Redding III said he didn’t become well-acquainted with Otis Redding Jr.’s extensive catalogue until he was an adult. Prior to releasing his own work, Redding III was in a popular funk, soul and disco band called The Reddings alongside brother Dexter and Mark Lockett throughout the 1980s, releasing six albums that included a number of charting singles. He said he grew up listening to rock guitar legend Jeff Beck and funk groups like Earth, Wind & Fire. Upon the breaking up of The Reddings, Redding III took a trip to Memphis with a friend, Gary Montgomery, in which he met soul-R&B singer Eddie Floyd, whose 1966-hit “Knock on Wood” reached No. 1 on the U.S. R&B charts. Redding III said between Floyd’s influence, the release of his father’s compilation album, “The Dock of the Bay -- The Definitive Collection,” and visits to Macon’s Capricorn studio (where he learned of his father’s impact on Southern rock bands like The Allman Brothers Band), Redding III discovered his musical calling was in the soul realm.
Redding III said slowly but surely he has been able to weave his own original work into his shows while also continuing to play soul hits by his father and many of his father’s contemporaries, such as Floyd. He said he’s most proud of a song about Macon entitled “This Ol Town” that he wrote with Barry Darnell.
Alongside Redding III on Saturday will be Brown, an Arabi, Ga. native who has charted over 20 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart while becoming a respected Nashville songwriter. Three Brown hits, “Hell and High Water”, “Don’t Go to Strangers” and “Darlene,” reached the top of the country charts in the mid to late 1980s.
Redding III said of Brown: “It’s just a blessing to be able to know him and work with him.”
Also performing on Saturday will be some talented up-and-coming musicians, including Artis & Aris Johnson, Tyler & Cameron and Lee McCombs.