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The late Otis Redding has been crowned as the biggest and best of soul music. His career unknowingly began at an early age where he sang in several church choirs. Who would have known that his legacy would grow and develop into timeless forms of art that thrive in the current music industry?
Between early work with Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers in 1960, and major performances in legendary venues like Apollo Theatre, he made a musical statement to last over a lifetime in just seven years. His major records such as “Try a Little Tenderness,” “Respect,” and “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” hit high numbers on Billboard charts. His lively energy on stage and ability to connect with the crowd during his worldwide successful concerts helped dub him the king of soul. His music was so universal that, despite gaining popularity during a time where civil rights issues were prevalent, both black and white members of audiences appreciated his work all the same.
To expand on his acceptance, he had five separate albums from 1965-1967 to peak in the top five positions of the R&B Billboard charts. His work earned him several honors, most of them posthumous. He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1981 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. He won the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul, Dreams to Remember: The Otis Redding Anthology, The Dock of the Bay, Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul, and Live in Europe were recognized in Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Simply put, truly timeless work does not die with its artists.
To this day, his name bears great power. As made popular in the present realm, Kanye West and Jay-Z won a Grammy award for their hit “Otis” which samples Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness.” Many enthusiasts keep his pieces alive with honorary documentaries and tributes. He’s been an influence to many greats, as expressed by Janis Joplin, who claims he drastically altered her perspective on her own singing voice. Several landmarks in Macon, Otis’ hometown, were named after him in memorial; most recently, a trolley named on what would have been his 72nd birthday, after his record “Dreams to Remember.”
His short-lived career was full of quality hits and performances that not only impacted soul music, but all genres in the following years of his death.