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The 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

God is great to bring us a band like this. He is truly great!
I'll Fly Away is awesome!
God given talent
Hi
jfalby20
:) i did not know that they were blind! thats what fascinates me!
soul soothing, love stretching, and gifted. thank you. you sounded off when I needed you the most.
pure soul lord forgive me for my sins
Love this!!!!!!
The Blind Boys of Alabama coming November 15, 2011 to Austin City Limits- LIVE!!!!!
Listening to them is good for the soul
sunshineprai s e c o n n e c t i o n
The message is definitely in the music!!!!
stroud435
STROUD435@YA H O O . C O M THIS A GREAT SONG BECAUSE I BELIVE
econnelly1
Absolutely love them. My father listened to gospel music on the radio. I was born in 1943 and remember well when really good music was on the radio, unlike today's junk. Lil Wayne, GAGA, etc. None of them can hold a candle. Rap and pop today is souless and witless
ilove this song. so be bless. from margaret pratt
. wagram.n.c.2 8 3 9 6 .
the city of red bluff ca needs some gospal to wake up the holy spirit and bring some joy to our town
i would love to have them in fsb church in red bluff
Beautiful Music
jayespangler
Al Drake thank you ---- so well said .......... you spoke for me here in the south east too . kinda gets down to where we live doesnt it . so good listening .
My name is Al Drake Jr. Owner of Drakes Meat Rubs, up here in the north west.Listeni n g to the Blind Boys Of Alabama reminds me of my childhood. This style of music brings me peace, joy, and understandin g of the sufferings we all go through that Christ (Jesus) wants and carries for us. A Men? How can I bring them and other old time gospel singers to perform in our community? info@drakesm e a t r u b s . c o m
this kind of gospel music are good for the soul
wantoinette8 9
excellent gospel songs
LOVE THEM
locustwestlo c u s t
excellent
Hands down one of the greatest EVER!!
THE BEST OF THE BEST!!!!!!

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