Blind Boys Of Alabama

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Blind Boys Of Alabama
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Musical Instrument Museum - MIM says
The Blind Boys of Alabama have the rare distinction of being recognized around the world as both living legends and modern-day innovators. They are not just gospel singers borrowing from old traditions; the group helped to define those traditions in the twentieth century and almost single-handedly created a new gospel sound for the twenty-first. Since the original members first sang together as kids at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in the late 1930s (including Jimmy Carter, who leads the group today), the band has persevered through seven decades to become one of the most recognized and decorated roots-music groups in the world.

Touring throughout the South during the Jim Crow era of the 1940s and 1950s, the Blind Boys flourished thanks to their unique sound, which blended the close harmonies of early jubilee gospel with the more fervent improvisations of hard gospel. In the early 1960s, the band sang at benefits for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was a part of the soundtrack to the civil rights movement. But as the years passed, gospel fans started to drift away and follow the many singers who had originated in the church but were now recording secular popular music. And the Blind Boys, who refused many offers to cross over to secular music, also saw their audiences dwindle. However, the Blind Boys persevered and their time came again, starting in the 1980s with their starring role in the Obie Award–winning musical The Gospel at Colonus, which began a new chapter in their incredible history. It is almost unbelievable that a group of blind, African American singers, who started out touring during a time of segregation, went on to win five GRAMMY Awards and a Lifetime Achievement GRAMMY, as well as were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and performed at the White House for three different presidents.

Their most recent album, Talkin’ Christmas!, a collaboration with Taj Mahal, continues the band’s streak of creating original and interesting work. It includes new versions of Christmas standards, covers of hidden gospel gems, and seven brand-new holiday songs—six of which are the first Christmas songs ever penned by the Blind Boys themselves. The new original songs include the title track “Talkin’ Christmas!”, a funky tribute to the power of Christmas featuring Money Mark on keyboards, and the compassionate “What Can I Do?”, which features Taj Mahal on vocals and is one of two songwriting collaborations with Stax Records soul legend William Bell. The album also features a hand-clapping rearrangement of the usually slower classic “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and a refreshingly intimate, acoustic version of “Silent Night.”

“They proclaim their reverence in close harmonies and gutsy improvisations that leap heavenward.”— New York Times
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By: Musical Instrument Museum - MIM

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