Cities like Macon, Georgia and across the state are in the middle of celebrating “The Year of Georgia Music”. Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Department of Economic Development have worked hard to bring in more live music and music festivals to Georgia.
Today, our Middle Georgia community enjoys a variety of musical offerings including performances by Macon natives. Visitors can see acclaimed concerts at Mercer University Robert McDuffie School of Music, take a musical history tour by Rock Candy Tours, or listen to free live music in an outdoor concert in Washington park every Second Sunday. Other projects in the works include the installation of pianos for the public to use free of charge.
“This year, events from songwriting contests to festivals commemorate Georgia’s musical heritage and give tourists even more reasons to visit and make a positive economic impact on local economies.” Gov. Nathan Deal
“Music is also a central part of our current growth. Music continues to bring us together as a community, giving us a way to bridge all socioeconomic lines and find common ground.” Macon Mayor Robert Reichert
Georgia cities making a musical difference
Oscar-winning lyricist John Herndon Mercer may have found fame and fortune in Hollywood and New York City, but he never forgot his hometown of Savannah, Georgia. The statue was dedicated on Nov. 18, 2009 on what would have been Mercer’s 100th birthday. Music company executives from New York, Hollywood and London were in attendance for the unveling ceremony.
Music put Albany on the map long ago and the city embraces its heritage. While visiting Albany, Georgia, make plans to visit the rotating monument to Ray Charles on Front Street.
“We are so proud to be associated with Ray Charles,” said Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard. “The life-sized rotating statue of Ray Charles at his piano in Riverfront Park is the centerpiece of our downtown revitalization.”
Visitors make a trip to Albany to experience and learn more about the city’s rich music history. The Albany Civil Rights Institute, where on select Saturdays the Freedom Singers, led by Civil Rights activist Rutha Harris, brings the pride of the Civil Rights Movement to life for both residents and tourists.
A few musicians that call Albany their home include Country Music Entertainer Luke Bryan and the 11th American Idol Phillip Phillips.
“Albany is the epicenter of the music created from the Civil Rights Movement and is the birthplace of the SNCC Freedom Singers,” said Albany City Manager Sharon D. Sudaban. “Our most famous and iconic native, Ray Charles, left his impact on the music industry and is still lauded as the original multi-platinum cross-over artist, composer, songwriter and singer who pioneered soul music by combining rhythm and blues with gospel.”
Augusta is best known as the hometown of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, but the city continues to provide American music with a host of accomplished musicians. Most people associate Augusta with the Masters Gold Tournament but don’t forget the city is home to some of music’s most notable figures. The legendary brand Lady Antelellum put the city of August on the country music map.
Music has been beneficial to Augusta in many ways. “Earlier this year, some of the original members of the James Brown band performed during our James Brown Festival, said Augusta Commissioner Sean Frantom. “It was such a unifying event for the community.” He added, “Stars like Christian singer Amy Grant, renowned opera singer Jessye Norman and jazz greats Wycliffe Gordon and Sharon Jones, called the female James Brown, all have Augusta connections. With stars like these, Georgia’s music scene will remain Super Bad.”
Athens’ local music is based primarily in the small downtown area of the northern part of the town.
In the 1980s, Athens was the epicenter of alternative rock with groups like the B52s, REM, and Widespread Panic, among a long list of others. The annual AthFest each summer brings international visitors to the college town.
Though Elvis was born in Tupelo, Miss., the city of Cornelia in Habersham County hosts The Big E Festival annually at the Everything Elvis Museum. This year’s event is Nov. 11-12. The highlight is the Elvis Tribute Artist Competition.
“From gospel music to country to classical, people in Habersham grew up surrounded with music,” said Cornelia Mayor J.C. Irby. “Part of this could stem from our historic Piedmont College’s award-winning music department. In fact, Piedmont College President Dr. James Mellichamp performed an organ concert this summer at Westminster Abbey in London.”