Blind Boys of Alabama

When it comes to making music, as crass as this sounds, there are some cool benefits to being blind. The obvious references to Ray Charles, Andrea Bocelli, and Stevie Wonder go without saying, as there are a number of talented musicians who can't see for shit but craft songs that can make tears come to your eyes. Within gospel, the group that stands out the most is the Blind Boys of Alabama. They started crooning together back in 1939, when they first met at the Alabama Institute for the Blind (two of the original three are still with the group). In the seven decades that have followed, the Blind Boys, now numbering five, have fought discrimination and hurdled obstacles that most people can only imagine. In the process, they've sung with all the gospel greats like Mahalia Jackson, Shirley Caesar, and the Winanses, to name a few. Their style is a bit guttural and backwoods, but that's the beauty of the gospel hymns they create. It's a big part of what's helped them rack up four Grammy Awards over the years and an induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. When they perform here this weekend, they'll open for gospel/soul artist Mavis Staples, so if you're filled with the holy spirit this Sunday and want to hear some captivating music, this is the show for you.

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Jonathan Cunningham