Joiterius (JT) Marshall is the Center Director for the Otis Redding Foundation. He has had a very expansive history with the foundation, having been a camper himself and changed roles as coach in previous years. Let’s talk more with JT about his love for music, what it’s like attending Middle Georgia State University, his experience of being both a camper and a coach in the Otis Music Camp, and much more. Marshall will undoubtedly represent Otis Redding and his legacy well and we are very excited to have him working at the Foundation.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
A: I was born in Augusta and I moved to Macon when I was around like 4 or 5. I grew up in church, singing in the community choirs, always doing something in music. I was a camper in the Foundation in 2014, and that’s when I really started taking the music thing seriously. That was mostly throughout my whole teenage years that lead to some cool opportunities, singing backup for a couple of artists and stuff like that. So, music has kind of been like the primary thing that I grew up doing.
Q: What began or kick-started your love for music?
A: Michael Jackson and James Brown. I had a huge CD case of a bunch of Michael Jackson CDs and I was just obsessed! I stayed up countless hours impersonating him, just watching every move he made. I mean interviews, everything. I was like I wanna be like him when I grow up.
Q: So what are your favorite songs from those artists?
A: For Michael Jackson, my favorite song would be “Human Nature.” I really love the instrumentation. I love the live version, the recorded version, anytime he sings it, I just get goosebumps. James Brown, I think my favorite James Brown song is “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto.” We used to play that every Christmas, it’s like a whole set playlist that we used to play every Christmas. But that song is like one of favorite James Brown songs.
Q: So have you ever played a tribute to those artists?
A: A talent show, I’ve done a couple of Michael Jackson songs. I actually have a James Brown doll that when you click on it, it plays “I Feel Good” and I’ll perform that in the living room for some aunties and stuff.
Q: Can you tell us about your experience as both a camper and a coach at the Otis Music Camp?
A: When I started as a camper, it was jaw-dropping. I’ve never been that involved into understanding the music industry and how all of that went. So, when I started, I was like, “Oh my god, this is like serious!” Like I gotta know all this stuff and write a song and I was actually in the studio for the first time. You know getting to have that moment was like an extremely huge learning experience. I learned a lot. I had made some friends who were also interested in that same musical journey. So, that really just kind of highlighted my life. Every summer I would be so excited for camp and to be in the camp. So, when I became a camp coach I was like, “Oh this is cool!” I get to see the other side of everything so I was able to relate to the campers and give them some prior knowledge and some more information about how everything would go as a camper and you know me being the coach kind of allowed me to put my experience and knowledge on the kids.
Q: What inspired you to become the Otis Redding Foundation’s Center Director?
A: Honestly, I did not see it coming! You know, you would think I’m just here to do a little camp and you know here. And they called me and when I sat into the meeting they were like telling what they wanted me to do, I was like, “Wow!” It was jaw-dropping, I didn’t see it coming you know. Being involved for six years, I wasn’t expecting to have like a huge offer. I see it as a huge offer. But I was excited, nervous, but excited because it challenges me to be more impactful and more of a leader and it really opened my eyes to new avenues of working in that music industry whether it’s being the choir director for the choir or coordinating events and stuff. It’s a cool challenge and so yeah it’s a cool challenge. I like it so far.
Q: What was it like being mentee of Stellar Award Nominee Maranda Curtis? Can you tell me how that happened and the process?
A: This is a weird story. Not a weird story but a cool story. It started off on Youtube. I was just on Youtube and I was watching a video of her and you know, I didn’t see it coming. I was like I’m gonna be on here one day. And come to find out, they launched a church, she launched a church in Macon. And I was like, “Oh!” Like literally a week before me watching that video, the next week I’m seeing a flyer of her launching a church in Macon. I was like, “Oh my gosh! I gotta go! I gotta go visit at least.” And you know since then I’ve visited a couple of times and I joined. She saw something in me. She told me you know, “You have my DNA and I see a lot of myself in you and I want to work with you and I really believe you have that ability to go forward in ministry and also in music.” And you know, she taught me a lot, and now she’s travelling and I get to talk to her a couple of times , whenever I need to speak to her she’s always available. So, I think it’s pretty cool and I love her.
Q: So do you feel kind of famous because of that?
A: No, not in a way. I usually don’t tell everybody, but now that I got it in my bio. I don’t really see it as that. I feel like I have someone who would still be there for me whether they go off. Even though she has gone extremely far, I still have access to her.
Q: While it is known about your dealings in music, what other interests or skills do you possess?
A: I don’t tell everybody this but I do have a license in ministry. So, I do preach from time to time. That’s something I’m still challenging myself with. Other than that, I do have interests in teaching in some kind of capacity. I also do graphic design. I have a small business called Major Branding where we’re starting to do, right now a lot of graphic design for helping with companies in Macon and some artists and stuff. That’s going pretty well. I’m so excited for that journey.
Q: How has going to Central High School shaped your musical journey?
A: Central High School taught me how to adapt with different personalities and different perspectives when it comes to music. I was president of the Central High School glee club and to me, that glee club was like a huge family. And you know, like family we have our moments when we have our differences. But it really taught me how to collaborate with people and plan and take other people’s opinions and respect theirs. We got to work together as a team to make a huge turnout in product. So, we have that at Central High School.
Q: What are some things you can tell me about attending Middle Georgia State University?
A: Attending Middle Georgia State was better than I thought. One of the most necessary decisions I had to make because I was at first headed to Morehouse and, it was literally a week before I was gonna move in. I had to take out this huge loan, but I didn’t do it. So, thankfully I had a contact at Middle Georgia that would get me in that process really quick so I can start there. I started off, I was nervous. I was like I definitely wasn’t trying to go here. It’s really not bad at all, very rigorous. You know it is very, you have to stay on top of things. You have to stay persistent. It’s really challenging me to, it’s also given me the opportunity to do more things locally. Which I wasn’t expecting to do, but you know, having this job, I’m glad I’m here! And doing this so it does leave me more room to handle some things locally and also save money because it’s not that expensive.
Q: So what are you majoring in?
A: I started off as a music major. And it was fun, it was fun. But I had like deeper interests into like going more into my graphic design concentration so I transitioned into New Media and Communications as my bachelors degree major.
Q: How would you describe your experience being both a worship leader and minister?
A: That experience has been challenging, scary, hard, but fun and rewarding and you know it lead me to a lot of connections and opportunities. It was something that I really ran away from for a good minute. I was like, “Oh gosh, I have to stay in front of these people. I’m just not capable of.” People like to judge, but you know, being on those platforms and leading worship and preaching and stuff. It lets you know how sometimes the smallest things that you say could really impact somebody. And that’s what I love about it. Whether it, you know, inspires one person or a thousand people, just to know that someone was helped and someone was inspired, and you know that someone has another reason to live on and keep going. That’s something that allows me to keep, you know pursuing that career in worship leading and ministry.
Q: Can you tell us about coaching at this year’s Otis Music Camp? Like what were your favorite moments?
A: My favorite moments of, well from this year, was meeting the kids the first time. Every year we find some interesting kids who were like already recording music and have their music out there and their already travelling things. But also the kids who had like the passion to do those things and who are all ears and loves to learn how to record and the songwriting process and how to perform on stage and what to do and what not to do. Just meeting those kids on the first day is like really fun, you get to know who you gonna be working with. Like this year, I was over the gospel group. And I’ve always worked with the gospel group, but now I was the lead of the gospel group. So, it really challenged me to find that inspiration to kind of get that worked out from the kids so that they can be creative and really work hard and try to get some great songs out of them.
Q: Last question, how are you feeling about Camp DREAM’s trip to Nashville?
A: I am excited! This is my first time, you know leading a trip with kids. So, that’s really challenging me to you know, be on my toes. But I am excited. I’ve actually never been to Nashville and Nashville’s a very musical city. So, I’m excited to see and learn about a couple of things up there. I’m ready to hear another round of “Old Town Road,” that’s the song we’ll be singing down there, well up there so I’m excited to see how that goes . And you know, I feel like it’s gonna be fun, a fun good moment.