Macon’s musical legacy is the impetus for its future. We wandered into the Tic Toc Room one morning and the new owner David Fullman stopped stocking the bar to tell us the club’s history. The original owner “Miss Ann” Howard created the club as one of Macon’s first gay bars. Little Richard, kicked out by his family while a teenager, slept upstairs, performed and washed dishes there. David proudly held an iconic photograph of him as he described how he’s revitalizing the club
Capricorn Records, where rockers like Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Daniels, Wet Willie, Percy Sledge, Bonnie Bramlett and others recorded in the 1970’s is renovating its historic building and undertaking a large music education program in collaboration with Mercer College. Their goal is to educate future music legends.
At the Otis Redding Foundation, Mary and I spoke to Leila Regan-Porter, the executive assistant. Fans come to the small museum to pay tribute to the influential soul singer including a guy from England who was so moved to arrive that he cried. I’ve been all over the world and this is my favorite place. I adore Macon,” she said. Inspired by its namesake, the foundation empowers youth through music and arts education programs and partners to provide lessons as well as scholarships for continued studies at Mercer College. “We all work together as part of our community to make things happen,” Leila says. This year they have 75 kids in music camps and teachers from all over the world.
When Macon touts itself as the city “Where Soul Lives” it’s also paying respect to the roots of that sound: the African American culture which comprises half of Macon’s population. Accompanied by children playing djembes, we toured the Harriet Tubman African American Museum with education coordinator JacQuez Harris. Radiating youthful optimism and ambition, JacQuez says he “tries to exemplify what a 21st century African American man should look like.” He dresses professionally and devotes himself to mentoring youth. “I don’t know what tomorrow holds but I know who holds tomorrow,” he told us as he passionately recounted Tubman and the museum’s stories.
H&H Restaurant, where the philosophy is “Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy”, was founded by two African American women Inez Hill and Louise Hudson. They fed the struggling Allman Brothers for free which earned “Mama Louise” (also known as “the most beloved woman in Macon”) a seat on their tour bus in 1972. Menu items such as pork skins ‘n pimento cheese, fried okra, biscuits and gravy and the legendary fried chicken continue to lure scores of hungry customers.
The Douglass Theatre, founded in 1921 by Macon’s first African American millionaire Charles Douglass, was recently renovated and continues to attract widely-varied audiences for concerts and events. It has earned membership in the African American Historic Preservation Network.
The rock, blues and soul megahits that were birthed in Macon are the city’s treasured legacy but to Macon they are just the intro. Investments and vision are nurturing the talent that will become our county’s future musical marvels. Rock on Macon. Rock on!
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