Sunday, May 3; Gospel Tent, 3:55-4:55
There are many ways to show the world your love; reaching out to others in ways that are bigger than yourself, and taking that extra step to spread your own happiness around the world. For the singers who make up The Blind Boys of Alabama, they have chosen to spread their joy through gospel and blues music for over 60 years. Since their beginning in 1944, the group has won five Grammys for gospel music, have gained fans around the globe, and still adore every minute they get to share in the spirit with their audiences as they sing together in sweet harmony.
“There was a school for the blind in a little town in Alabama called Talladega, Alabama,” says one of the founding members Jimmy Carter, “and all the blind children who got an education came to that school. That’s how the Blind Boys got started.” The group eventually decided to make a career out of their music; a career that has spanned seven decades of tours, recordings, and appearances spreading their own spirituality to loving fans.
“Gospel is the good news of God,” says Jimmy of their music, “so that’s what we try to convey to our audiences…wherever there’s light there’s hope.” The group indeed does convey this message as they sing with an intense passion. Having covered classics such as “Amazing Grace” and “I’ll Fly Away” as well as collaborating on modern spirituals with artists like Ben Harper and Susan Tedeschi, the Blind Boys have also recorded a host of their own original material that is infused into their live performances. In 2002, The Blind Boys of Alabama were even inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, but never the less still have an unquenchable thirst to keep pursuing the career they love.
“We love what we do, we love singing gospel,” Jimmy Carter tells, “when you love what you do, when you enjoy what you do, it keeps you motivated.” Though he also explains of the special relationship the band has with their fans. “You got your fans, and you try to please them because without them you couldn’t be anything. We love our fans, and our fans love us, and we got along good; we’re just a happy family,” Jimmy excitedly proclaims.
One place the band has had such a rich history of fans in has been our own fair city of New Orleans where the Blind Boys of Alabama have sung to audiences on many occasion becoming supporters of the city themselves just as the city’s music enthusiasts continuously come out to support them. “New Orleans has always been a good city to the Blind Boys,” explains Carter. “Back in the day, the Blind Boys would come to New Orleans two or three times a year.” He’s a big fan of the food and the people, and says he loves the Gospel Tent at Jazz Fest. “I love the Jazz Fest, especially the gospel part over in the Gospel Tent. I like to do that show,” he says.