music

February 28, 1940

Joe South

Joseph Souter was born in Atlanta on this day in 1940. After meeting disc jockey Bill Lowery, he shortened his name to Joe South. He played in Lowery’s house band at National Recording Corporation in Atlanta. So did Ray Stevens and Jerry Reed. His first success came writing songs for other performers: “Untie Me” for […]

January 24, 1939

Ray Stevens

He streaked to the top of the charts. Singer-songwriter Ray Stevens was born Harold Ray Ragsdale in Clarksdale, Georgia. He attended high school in Albany and soon after got a recording contract in Nashville. In 1970, Stevens hit #1 and won a Grammy with the mainstream “Everything is Beautiful”, but it was the unorthodox songs […]

January 23, 1993

Thomas A. Dorsey

“Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” one of the most famous gospel songs ever written, was inspired by the personal tragedy of its author. Thomas Dorsey was born in Villa Rica in 1899 and grew up listening to shape-note singing and spirituals in church. He was also influenced by blues icons Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. […]

December 11, 1944

Brenda Lee

Her signature song was “I’m Sorry” but there was nothing sorry about the career of Brenda Lee…one of the first singers to be launched to stardom by the new medium of TV. She was born Brenda Mae Tarpley in Atlanta and grew up in Conyers and Lithonia. She won a talent show at age five […]

December 5, 1932

Little Richard

Richard Wayne Penniman is not a name most people associate with the beginning of rock n’ roll, but few people did more to make rock one of the hearthstones of 20th-century American culture than the man known as Little Richard. Penniman was born into a family of 12 children in Macon and grew up singing […]

November 28, 1987

R.E.M.

They were the quintessential college rock band of the 1980s, working in the town Rolling Stone called “the best college music scene in the country.” Michael Stipe was an art student at the University of Georgia when he met Peter Buck at the Wuxtry Record store in Athens. Together with Mike Mills and Bill Berry, […]

November 18, 1909

Johnny Mercer

“Moon River,” “Jeepers Creepers,” “Accentuate the Positive” — Savannah native John Herndon Mercer wrote those songs and a thousand more like them, and his songs are some of the most popular of all time. In a career that spanned nearly 50 years, Mercer co-founded Capitol Records, wrote for Broadway musicals, and was nominated for 19 […]

October 24, 1962

James Brown

He was born in a one-room shack in Barnwell, South Carolina, in 1933. He moved to Augusta, Georgia when he was five. His mother abandoned him, he grew up in abject poverty and he was sent to jail for petty theft at 15. But James Brown overcame it all to become one of the most […]

October 29, 1971

Duane Allman

He was the leader of the band that helped spark the Southern rock movement of the 1970s. Duane Allman was born in 1946 in Nashville and his family moved to Florida when he was 11. Duane started playing guitar and he and his brother Gregg formed a band called the Allman Joys. It would be […]

October 4, 1942

Bernice Johnson Reagon

Her most powerful weapon is her voice. It always has been. Bernice Johnson Reagon was born in Albany. The Baptist minister's daughter grew up immersed in the power and glory of spirituals.  Reagon's activism began at Albany State in 1961. She was arrested for participating in a civil rights protest sponsored by SNCC, the Student Non–Violent […]