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True to their beliefs

The legendary Blind Boys of Alabama will hit the stage Dec. 5 at Ardmore Music Hall

The legendary Blind Boys of Alabama will hit the stage Dec. 5 at Ardmore Music Hall. Image | Jim Herrington

The Blind Boys of Alabama are recognized worldwide as living legends of gospel music. Celebrated by The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences with Lifetime Achievement Awards, inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and winners of five Grammy Awards, they have attained the highest levels of achievement in a career that spans over 70 years. 

Now you can catch the group on stage when they appear at the Ardmore Music Hall on Dec. 5. Visit ardmoremusichall.com for more information.

The Blind Boys are known for crossing multiple musical boundaries with their remarkable interpretations of everything from traditional gospel favorites to contemporary spiritual material by songwriters such as Eric Clapton, Prince and Tom Waits. They have appeared on recordings with many artists, including Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Aaron Neville, Susan Tedeschi, Ben Harper, Patty Griffin and Taj Mahal. The Blind Boys of Alabama have appeared on The Grammy Awards, “60 Minutes,” “The Colbert Report” and many other television shows.

Current tour members include singers Jimmy Carter, Ricky McKinnie, Ben Moore and the Rev. Julius Love, as well as music director/guitarist Joey Williams.

PW recently caught up with Carter to talk about the group’s legendary career.

The group has been together for more than 70 years. How did it form? How did it come up with its name?

The Blind Boys formed in 1939 at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Deaf and Blind in Talladega, AL. We were originally called The Happy Land Jubilee Singers. In the ‘40s, a promoter booked us along with a gospel act from Mississippi who were known as the Jackson Harmoneers. They were also visually impaired, so the promoter advertised it as the “Battle of the Blind Boys.” After that, we changed our names to the Blind Boys of Alabama and Blind Boys of Mississippi.

Looking back on it all, what are some of the group’s highlights? Is there anything still on the band’s “bucket list” that it wants to achieve?

We went to the White House three times, which was a great experience each time. We have also won five Grammys and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award which was amazing.One of my goals for the Blind Boys of Alabama is to perform a two- to three-month residency in Las Vegas. I would love that and I know our fans would too!

Society’s musical tastes change over the years, yet the group stayed true to its gospel roots. Why do you think you’ve stayed so successful and popular over the decades?

We’ve always stayed true to our beliefs. Although we’ve collaborated with many secular artists, we’ve always stuck to our gospel roots because that’s how we started and God has blessed us.

No doubt the pandemic threw a wrench into your concert plans. How did the group spend its time off the road? How excited are you to be back on stages before live audiences?

I’m a sports addict, so I had a lot of time to listen to sports during the pandemic which was a highlight for me. We are all very glad to be back on the road again, and our fans seem to be glad too.

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  • Eugene Zenyatta was raised on old-time Memphis 'rasslin' and strongly prefers the company of dogs to people. His greatest heartbreak came in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic.

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