Thursday, May 5, 2011

Otis Redding: The True King of Soul

Otis Redding is my favorite soul singer.  My husband loves Otis, too, and These Arms of Mine is 'our' song.  Another favorite is Come To Me.  I have never heard such passion, such feeling in a singer's voice.
Born in Macon, Georgia, Otis began singing as a youth when he kept winning local talent competitions.  It was a time when racial segregation was strictly enforced, so white people were not allowed to attend.  But unbeknownst to Otis, he had two white fans who parked their cars outside the theater and tuned in on their car radios.  They later became his managers.  They were spurned by the white community as "N-Lovers," while the blacks accused Otis of being a "White Man's N." 

Otis tragically died at 26 when his private jet crashed into a Wisconsin lake.  He had just recorded his famous Dock of the Bay which was released after his death.

I'm sorry Otis Redding died so young.  And I'm sorry he did not live to see the changes the Civil Rights Movement brought.  But he left behind a legacy of beautiful, haunting songs.  And he sang those songs with feeling and passion from deep within his soul.

Some people tout Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and others as the kings of soul.  And they are wonderful singers.  But in my opinion, Otis Redding is the true King of Soul.  And always will be.

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All words and pictures © 2008 Brenda G. Wooley