ROCKIN’ OUT DOWN THE ROAD IN AUGUSTA AND MACON.
STORY: Joanne Hayes
While Atlanta might get all the mainstream glory, two cities just down the road make headlines of their own.
Augusta, home to James Brown, houses an exhibition at the Augusta Museum of History, featuring rare memorabilia and personal artifacts that vividly tell the story of Brown’s rise to worldwide fame. Costumes and accessories from the 1960s on, a King of Soul crown from the 1950s, and candid family photos of Brown and his children are just a few of the highlights, along with programs, concert performance footage, highlighted tracks and studio recordings, and excerpts from interviews with individuals who were influenced by Brown.
The biographical film of Brown’s life, Get On Up, released in August 2014, brought attention to the city and a host of fan photos next to the James Brown statue on Broad Street.
The Jessye Norman Amphitheater and Jessye Norman School of the Arts, honoring the American Grammy award winning opera singer and recitalist from Augusta, are both located in downtown Augusta. The Major Rager concert, which occurs during Masters Week and sold out last year in its inaugural year, is performed at the Amphitheater.
Another music connection in Augusta right now is an art exhibit. American Dreams: Paintings by John Mellencamp (the American rock singer-songwriter, musician, painter and actor)— fifty oil and mixed-media paintings, including several never before seen by the public, are at the Morris Museum of Art through April 12, 2015.
In Macon, the Otis Redding Foundation, established in 2007, creates educational awareness programs in the arts and humanities. The Mini Museum offers a small peek into the life, accomplishments and awards of Otis Redding, the singer-songwriter who called Macon home from the age of 5.
Little Richard, recording artist, songwriter and musician who calls Macon home, has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for over six decades.
Also in Macon is The Big House, the gathering place where band members of The Allman Brothers Band, their roadies, friends and families lived from 1970 to 1973. Instruments, posters, photos and memorabilia of all sorts fill every room of this house— worth a visit if you’re a true 70s rock-and-roll fan (like me). Rock on, Macon and Augusta.
Atlanta’s thriving music industry owes much credit to its behind the scenes contributors, Love says. “Local producers, engineers, recording studios and clubs are a vital part of that ecosystem.” Stephen Carrington, scheduling manager at Doppler Studios in Midtown, says music’s A-list often stops in. “We have worked with André Benjamin of OutKast, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey and Usher. Alicia Keys and Waka Flocka have been here. Recording artists come to Atlanta because there is a lot of music history here.”
These artists are among those who also call Atlanta home: Big Boi, Grammy-winning hip-hop artist and producer. CeeLo Green, Grammy-winning R&B artist. Chris Tomlin, a contemporary Christian singer and songwriter. Dottie Peoples, award-winning gospel star. Drumma Boy, Grammy-nominated rapper, hip-hop artist and producer. Jermaine Dupri, Grammy-winning music producer and songwriter. John Driskell Hopkins, singer/ songwriter and founding member of Grammy-winning Zac Brown Band. Ne-Yo, R&B singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer and actor. Tamela Mann, award-winning gospel singer. Tim Smith, guitarist for Sheryl Crow. Young Jeezy, Grammy-winning rapper and hip-hop artist. 2 Chainz, Grammy-nominated rapper and hip-hop artist.