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The Blind Boys of Alabama
The Blind Boys of Alabama
The Blind Boys of Alabama

The Blind Boys of Alabama
@ the Barbican
18 November 2009

Click an image to enlarge.


The Blind Boys of Alabama are; Jimmy Carter (vocals) Bishop Billy Bowers (vocals) Ben Moore (vocals) Eric (Ricky) McKinnie (drums) Joey Williams (lead guitar) Tracy Pierce (bass).

As The Blind Boys of Alabama celebrate their many years of continuous harmonising, it’s a fitting time to ponder their amazing resilience. What has kept them going for so long, and still sounding so great? Rock-solid religious faith certainly helps account for their vibrant longevity. So does their unshakeable conviction that they were put here for the express purpose of singing. But an equally important factor, not always shared by their peers, is the Blind Boys’ open-mindedness. Old-time Gospel music circles are often marked by rigid conservatism and the dismissal of popular music as a worldly temptation of the Devil. The Blind Boys, by contrast, shun worldliness yet eagerly embrace the world, bringing spiritual music to secular audiences in order to spread their message.

As a result, the group has formed fast friendships with an impressive array of musicians venerable colleagues and youthful protégés alike who span several generations and a wealth of genres. Many of these major artists have asked the Blind Boys to guest on their projects, and “Duets” documents the twenty-year history of this rich, eclectic and cohesive interaction. The Blind Boys are sought for their general wisdom, specific input, and intangibly special presence, and it’s important to note that The Blind Boys don’t accept every such invitation. The lyrical content has to be right – not necessarily religious, per se, but spiritual nonetheless. They also have to feel the song and believe that they can put their own stamp on it. Once those criteria are met, the Blind Boys of Alabama are in with enthusiasm, expertise, and soulful commitment.

It’s also rare for such an elderly, historic group to have come so far and still straddle modern music’s cutting edge. When the group first started singing in Alabama in 1939, few people would have ever envisioned the Blind Boys performing beyond a small circuit of Southern, black-community churches. By the 1980s, however, the group’s breakthrough appearance in an Obie award-winning musical – “The Gospel At Colonus” starring Morgan Freeman - led to diverse popularity far beyond the Blind Boys’ original core following.

Since then the Blind Boys have released or reissued nearly 30 albums, five of which – “Down In New Orleans,” “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” “Higher Ground,” “Spirit of the Century,” and “There Will Be A Light” (a collaboration with Ben Harper) – have garnered Grammy awards. (What’s more, the Recording Academy also honoured the Blind Boys with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009).

The Blind Boys of Alabama

Allen Toussaint with the Blind Boys of Alabama

The Blind Boys of Alabama

The Blind Boys of Alabama



Go Tell It OnThe Mountain Higher Ground Spirit Of The Century Ben Harper and The Blind Boys of Alabama- there will be a light

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