Otis Redding

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About Otis Redding

Otis Redding’s open-hearted vocal presence was clear right from his debut single, 1962’s “These Arms of Mine.” A sustained smolder that quivers and aches with uncommon depth of feeling, the stark ballad still delivers an emotional knockout. But the soul legend (born in Dawson, Georgia in 1941) could burn much hotter than that, too, adding a fiery, full-throated climax to the staid crooner standard “Try a Little Tenderness” and investing himself entirely in the pleading soul ballad “That’s How Strong My Love Is.” Backed by the era-defining house band at Stax Records (including keyboardist Booker T. Jones and guitarist Steve Cropper), Redding mingled the tender devotion of gospel and doleful gravity of blues with the honeyed, hummable tone of pop while retaining a rootsy, everyman appeal. Expressive yet absolutely assured, his singing imparts a stream of charismatic flourishes, whether sultry asides to his romantic subject or knowing nods to the band. Following his tragic death at age 26, he topped the charts with 1968’s posthumous “(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay,” a down-home reflection on being at loose ends that seems to slow down time itself. Redding’s velvety command of his craft has since influenced many generations of singers, including Al Green and Leon Bridges.

Dawson, GA, United States
September 9, 1941
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