The Blind Boys of Alabama to perform at Beloit College

BELOIT, WIS.—For more than 60 years, The Blind Boys of Alabama have been keeping alive the spirit and power of pure soul gospel music. Join Beloit College in welcoming this passionate group of performers at 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 16, in Eaton Chapel on the Beloit College campus. The group comes to Beloit as part of the International Performing Arts and Lecture Series and is co-sponsored by Black Students United (BSU).

Since meeting at the Talladega Institute for the Blind in 1939, The Blind Boys of Alabama have thrilled audiences across the globe with their unique blend of gospel, roots and blues music. Founding members Clarence Fountain, Jimmy Carter and George Scott, along with newer members Joey Williams, Ricky McKinnie and Bobby Butler, have drawn upon gospel’s river-deep reflections on the hardships of life, and have mastered the music’s haunting falsettos and muscular harmonies.

Through decades of struggle, The Blind Boys of Alabama have continued to grow as a group, opening up their style to the world of contemporary music. Along the way, the Blind Boys also managed to record nearly two dozen albums and become one of the nation’s top gospel acts.

What is truly remarkable about The Blind Boys of Alabama is that they not only represent the highest standard of an American musical tradition; they also extend that tradition to music’s contemporaries. Last year’s album, Spirit of the Century, applied the Blind Boys’ soulful style to eclectic tunes of the Rolling Stones, Tom Waits and Ben Harper. The album won the group their first Grammy Award. Their newest album, Higher Ground, pulls together a rich assortment of classic and contemporary spiritual songs, including compositions from Curtis Mayfield, Prince, Aretha Franklin, Jimmy Cliff, Ben Harper, Stevie Wonder and even Funkadelic. The group was recently invited to open for jam band The String Cheese Incident in Boulder, Colo.

At an age when most men retire, the Blind Boys are still going strong. More than that, they are actually youthful. They bring a refreshing form of spirituality, old and new, that is comforting and inclusive, and they make it difficult to distinguish where art ends and spirituality begins. As Benjamin Nugent of Time magazine said in August 2002, “The Blind Boys are always hunting for—and finding—the perfect note or harmony that lifts an old tune into the sublime.” Indeed, their music can soothe souls of all persuasions.

This concert is open to the public. An admission fee of $12 ($8 for senior citizens, and $4 for students) will be charged. For information, visit the Beloit College Web site at, or contact Mary Frey at (608) 363-2242.

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