Appreciating all that makes America special

Singers: The Blind Boys of Alabama

They started singing together in 1939, but the Grammy people didn't recognize them until 2002. Uploaded by pac.unlv.edu.

The Rolling Stones formed in the early sixties. That’s a career span coming up on 40 years, which is remarkable. But the Blind Boys of Alabama started singing in 1939 at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in Talladega. And though only two of the original members are still living, they’re still touring, still performing.

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For most of the group’s history, the Boys performed pure gospel music in the traditional black churches and gospel music venues. Then in 1983, they appeared in Gospel At Colonus on Broadway, and their new audiences were thrilled. So were other well-known artists, who asked the Blind Boys to record with them. In fact, they’ve featured some of these sessions on their album Duets, in which they sing with Ben Harper, Timothy B. Schmidt, Bonnie Raitt, Jars of Clay, Lou Reed, and others.

They released their first album in 1948, the intriguingly titled I Can See Everybody’s Mother But Mine. They’ve released dozens of albums since, and the Grammy folks finally took notice a few years ago. The group received the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album every year between 2002 and 2005. And in 2009 they were awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Though they’ve expanded their appeal, they haven’t abandoned their faith. Here’s one of their great performances. Head over to YouTube and catch some others. It’s still not too late to get on the bandwagon.

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