Organizers withdraw plan for music academy with soul

Organizers withdraw plan for music academy with soul

(Ga.) Hopes have dimmed for a charter school steeped in art and music sponsored by the Otis Redding Foundation after organizers failed to meet enrollment goals and ran into facility issues.

Karla Redding-Andrews, the school’s board chair and daughter of the famed R&B singer who died in 1967, confirmed the bad news to the Macon Telegraph last week.

“We have decided to withdraw the charter,” she told reporters. “We know it’s disappointing but we’re not going to do it unless it’s 100 percent right.”

The school, known as the Dream Academy, was authorized by the Georgia Charter School Commission in September, 2016. As proposed, the charter would have initially served about 500 students from kindergarten through the 10th grade.

Expectations were that the school site in central Macon would have opened last fall, but that was delayed a year after only about 300 students signed up, according to the Telegraph.

The Dream Academy was to become one of the first charters in Georgia to utilize project-based learning. Redding-Andrews said at the time the charter was authorized that the school would offer “a unique curriculum that blends music and the arts in core classes, every day.”

It is unclear if the backers of the school intend on renewing their effort at another time.

The Otis Redding Foundation, which is also based in Macon, was to have served as a partner with the school and draw on the organization’s already established artistic and musical programs for youth.

Otis Redding, who moved to Macon as a child and considered it his home, was an enormously influential singer and songwriter whose career was cut short when he was killed in plane crash at the age of 26.

His biggest hit, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of Bay” wasn’t released until after his death. Some of his other important works became well known only after being recorded by other artists. “Respect,” for instance, was famously covered by Aretha Franklin.

The foundation was established in 2007 by Zelma Redding, the singer’s widow, but is now run by his daughter, Redding-Andrews.

The foundation operates three programs for area students: the Dream Choir, established in 2015; the Otis Music Camp, a two-week instructional program for about 60 teens; and the Otis Redding Center for the Creative Arts, which provides after-school and weekend lessons in piano, guitar and voice.

In 2016, the foundation received nearly $229,000 in gifts and contributions but spent nearly $300,000 in program services with about $10,000 going for administrative expenses.

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