5 Blind Boys of Alabama
The Blind Boys of Alabama are recognized worldwide as living legends of gospel music. Celebrated by The Grammys and The National Endowment for the Arts with Lifetime Achievement Awards, inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and winners of five Grammy® Awards, they have attained the highest levels of achievement in a career that spans over 60 years and shows no signs of diminishing. Longevity and major awards aside, The Blind Boys have earned praise for their remarkable interpretations of everything from traditional gospel favorites to contemporary spiritual material by acclaimed songwriters such as Curtis Mayfield, Ben Harper, Eric Clapton, Prince and Tom Waits. Their performances have been experienced by millions on The Tonight Show, Late Night with David Letterman, the Grammy® Awards telecast, 60 Minutes, and on their own holiday PBS Special. The Blind Boys' live shows are roof- raising musical events that appeal to audiences of all cultures, as evidenced by an international itinerary that has taken them to virtually every continent.
The Blind Boys of Alabama formed at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in 1939. The group toiled for almost 40 years almost exclusively on the black gospel circuit, playing in churches, auditoriums, and even stadiums across the country. Their recorded output, reaching back to 1948 with their hit I Can See Everybodys Mother But Mine on the Veejay label, is widely recognized as being influential for many gospel, R&B and rock n roll artists. The Blind Boys had their own chance to "cross over" to popular music in the 1950's, along with their gospel friend and contemporary Sam Cooke, but stayed true to their calling. In the 1960's, they joined the Civil Rights movement, performing at benefits for Dr. Martin Luther King. They toiled in the vineyards all through the 1970's as the world of popular music began to pass them by. But in 1983, their career reached a turning point with their crucial role in the smash hit and Obie Award-winning play "The Gospel at Colonus," which brought the Blind Boys timeless sound to an enthusiastic new audience. In the 1990's they received two Grammy nominations and performed at the White House. In recent years the Blind Boys were awarded five Grammy Awards and their musical brethren have paid homage to their legacy and their continued relevance by asking them to contribute and collaborate on new projects. The Blind Boys have appeared on recordings with Bonnie Raitt, Randy Travis, k.d. lang, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Charlie Musselwhite, Susan Tedeschi, Solomon Burke, Marty Stuart, Asleep at the Wheel and many others. The Blind Boys of Alabama have profoundly influenced an entire generation (or two) of gospel, soul, R&B and rock musicians and are still blazing trails after all these years.
As the Blind Boys of Alabama head into their seventh decade of belting out impeccable harmonies its only fitting for them to release their new recording, Duets, a special anthology featuring 14 unique collaborations. The CD includes classics from other artists Grammy-winning CDs plus four brand new tracks.
Unlike some of their old-time gospel music brethren, the Blind Boys eagerly embrace the popular music world, bringing gospel music to mainstream audiences. As a result the group has formed fast friendships with an impressive array of musicians venerable colleagues and youthful protégés alike - who span a wealth of genres. Many artists have asked the Blind Boys to guest on their projects and their new release documents these rich, eclectic and cohesive interactions. Duets ranges from rock to reggae, country to contemporary Christian, and blues to ballads, all unified by the Blind Boys deep, soulful harmonizing.
Duets features three previously unreleased tracks - with Lou Reed, John Hammond and Toots Hibbert - as well as a new song with Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles which will be simultaneously released on his forthcoming CD. Also included is the audio version of a tune with Marva Wright which, until now, was only available on video on the Blind Boys Live In New Orleans DVD. The album also includes performances with Ben Harper, Randy Travis, Bonnie Raitt, Solomon Burke, Susan Tedeschi, Jars of Clay, Charlie Musselwhite, Asleep At The Wheel, and Dan Zanes. Of the nine previously-released tracks on Duets, seven have appeared on Grammy-nominated or Grammy-winning albums. The diverse group of artists that make up Duets reflects the expansive appeal of the group as well as the sweeping reverence for their talent.