The Blind Boys of Alabama are a gospel music group from Alabama that first formed at the Talledega School for the Deaf and Blind in 1939. Although the Blind Boys of Alabama have been singing gospel music for more than five decades, it's only recently that the group has had the benefit of a major record company behind them. The founding members were Clarence Fountain, Johnny Fields, George Scott, Ollice Thomas, and Vel Trayler. The current group consists of Eric McKinney, Billy Bowers, Jimmy Carter, Joey Williams, and Donald Dillion.
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The Blind Boys of Alabama are a gospel group from Alabama that first formed at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind at Talladega, Alabama in 1939. The three main vocalists of the group and their drummer/percussionist are all blind.
As of 2010, The Blind Boys of Alabama continue to tour nationally and internationally, with Jimmy Carter singing lead vocals. In 2006, Clarence Fountain, the group's former long-time lead vocalist and founding member limited his touring for health reasons. Founding member George Scott died on March 9, 2005 at the age of 75. Another founding member, Johnny Fields, died on November 12, 2009.
Releases by the group in recent years have been favorites at the Grammy Awards-they won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album every year between 2002 to 2005. The Blind Boys of Alabama were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2009, they were awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
In the early 1980s, the Blind Boys of Alabama performed in the Obie Award-winning musical The Gospel at Colonus; their involvement in the production has continued into the twenty-first century, most recently with a 2008 performance in Athens, (Greece, near the original performance location of Sophocles's play Oedipus at Colonus), where Jimmy Carter took over the role of Oedipus originally created by Clarence Fountain.
Their rendition of Tom Waits' "Way Down in the Hole" was used as the theme song of the HBO series The Wire in its first season.
Their cover of Ben Harper's "I Shall Not Walk Alone" was featured in the first season of ABC's Lost, in the episode "Confidence Man".
The Blind Boys were featured on the Imus in the Morning radio and TV show on November 30, 2006 and October 26, 2009; on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on December 20, 2006, and March 11 2008; on Late Night With Conan O'Brien on February 1, 2008; and on The Late Show with David Letterman on January 21, 2010. They have collaborated with numerous artists, including Ben Harper, Aaron Neville and Mavis Staples. They have joined Tom Petty, John Fogerty, and Peter Gabriel on tour, and they toured with Taj Mahal in 2008. In a surprise to both the band and the audience, the Blind Boys were joined by Prince on stage in a March 7, 2008 show at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood, California.
In February of 2010, The Blind Boys performed at the White House for President and First Lady along with Bob Dylan, Natalie Cole, John Mellencamp, Smokey Robinson and Seal.