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The Five Blind Boys Of Alabama

Although the Blind Boys of Alabama have been singing gospel music for more than five decades, it's only recently that the group has had the benefit of a major record company behind it. Led by founding member Clarence Fountain, the group has also featured Eric McKinney, George Scott, Caleb Butler, Johnny Fields, Jimmy Carter, Joey Williams, Donald Dillion, and Aubrey Blount. From their inception in the 1930s, when all were boys, the group's members turned their blindness into their chief selling point, and in fact, all members of the group except one are blind. They began singing when all were students at the Talladega Institute for the Deaf and Blind in Alabama, but didn't begin recording until 1948. As a youth, Fountain heard the legendary Golden Gate Quartet on the radio; the early Five Blind Boys of Alabama took their musical cues from that group. The group began singing professionally as the Happy Land Jubilee Singers, and for years lived a day-to-day, dollar-to-dollar existence touring the South.

Beginning in 1948, they recorded for a variety of small record companies, and had gospel music hits in the 1950s with "Oh, Lord Stand by Me" and "I Can See Everybody's Mother But I Can't See Mine." In 1950, after the death of one of its members, the group renamed itself simply the Blind Boys of Alabama. Fountain's group recorded first for the Newark-based Coleman Records label. Between 1953 and 1957, the group recorded for Art Rupe's California-based Specialty label. In the '60s, the group's hard-driving gospel sounds were imitated by people like Bobby "Blue" Bland and Marvin Gaye. The group recorded extensively for the Vee-Jay label from 1963 to 1965. In 1969, Fountain left the group for a decade to try to make it on his own, and the group re-formed with all the original members in the late '70s.

They didn't enjoy widespread success until 1988, when they starred in an Obie Award-winning Broadway show. According to Fountain, the group's high point was being on Broadway for 15 weeks with the musical Gospel at Colonus. The musical opened up new avenues for bookings for the Blind Boys of Alabama, and they began touring theaters and larger churches in the early '90s, embarking on their first European tours as well. The group was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship in 1994. In 1994 and 1995, the group played festivals including the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the Beale Street Music Festival, and the King Biscuit Blues Festival. Mid-'90s television appearances included BET's On Jazz, and even a cameo on Beverly Hills, 90210. The group appeared on Peter Gabriel's 2002 album Up, and was co-billed with Ben Harper on 2004's There Will Be a Light. Scott passed away in 2005, and Fountain retired from active performance soon after, leaving Jimmy Carter to lead the group. Original bass singer Johnny Fields died in 2009. A new recording in 2011, Take the High Road, found the Blind Boys of Alabama pursuing their roots in country gospel, with help from producer Jamey Johnson and featuring guests including Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr., and Vince Gill. The group took an even harder left turn when they collaborated with producer Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) on a collection of spirituals and spiritually oriented pop songs that hosted a number of special guest vocalists including Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), Merrill Garbus (tUnE-yArDs), Sam Amidon, and the ubiquitous Patty Griffin. Titled I'll Find a Way, the album was released in October of 2013. ~ Richard Skelly, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

WHEN GOD,S FOR YOU,nothing can stand against YOU.
Seeing in the Spirit=Singi n g . 14y 1m
Praise the Lord almighty. Thank you Jesus Christ my Lord and savior.
I am so proud to call these guys legends and personal friends. I always enjoy seeing them perform, and my brother Joey is mean on the ax! Love you guys........
music that touches the soul 8)
prays lord.
Now that is what I call Gospel!
geraldin.hum p h r e y
Listing to this group brings back some wonderfull memories of my cihildhood when we used to listen them on the radio from NASHVILLE,TN . . . T h e y are still going strong.... THANK GOD...
I've always loved the The Blind Boys of Alabama!!
john.perlste i n
This group is amazing to listen to and to see. I love the chance to hear them from their early days
Full of bone trmbling soul and one of music many true inspirations
Love them!
god bless the five blind boys
This is one of my most favorite groups of all times.
I wish they had their most recent albums up on Pandora.
I love to hear Black people sing blending their voices in perfect harmony.you are great God Bless you.
courtnea8
I went to Mason Temple in Memphis, Ternnessee and I saw the five Blind Boys along with the Pilgram Jubilee Singers in the late 60's. I love Clarence Fountain.
I just want to say that you brothers are truly blessed by God and I really like your music God Bless
I would like to hear more of Doc Mckenize.
IT'S SO REAL I USED TO HEAR ALL OF THESE SONGS AND ESPECIALLY QUARTET MUSIC AS A CHILD MY MOM AND AUNTS USED TO SING THEM ALL DAY LONG. IT'S SO TOUCHING!!!! PLEASE CONTINUE- I LISTEN ALL DAY . THANKS WE HAD A(VICTROLA)A L S O THE 33 RPM I BELIEVE MOM IS GONE ON TO GLORY. LOTS OF QUARTETS PERFORMED AT MY LOCAL SCHOOL IN MCKENNEY VA.

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