Three Rivers Arts Festival - Blind Boys of Alabama
“A superweapon of roots-music uplift…”
-Hal Horowitz, Rolling Stone
“Inspired and relevant…borders on the miraculous.”
-The Washington Post
Much in the world has changed since the original version of the Blind Boys of Alabama first raised their voices together. That was in 1939, when the members were just kids at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in Talladega, Ala. Today, more than 70 years later, founding member Jimmy Carter can look back on a career far beyond what he and his colleagues could imagine at that time. The group has won a long list of awards, including Lifetime Achievement honors from the Grammys and the National Endowment for the Arts, entertained around the world, been profiled on 60 Minutes, sung for two Presidents at the White House and been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Yet throughout this long adventure, they kept one secret to themselves. “All my life, I’ve loved country music,” confesses Carter. “I was raised up around it. Back in the 1940s, I remember listening to Hank Williams and so many others. Their voices were great. The writers were great. And every song had a meaning. I still have loads of country music in my home and I play it all the time. “
Though the group has recorded and performed with a few country artists, along with others as diverse as Ben Harper, Tom Petty, Peter Gabriel and Prince, they never crossed the line and committed to doing a project inspired by the country genre until now, with the release of Take The High Road on Saguaro Road Records. This landmark recording draws from modern and traditional country to enrich the group’s
gospel-rooted sound with fresh and illuminating insight.
The singers mirrored this deep feeling as they laid their unmistakable, church-inflected harmonies over beds of fiddle and steel guitar. The result isn’t just an album that explores the juncture of two great forms of American music; it’s an achievement that stands out even in the Blind Boys’ storied catalog as a demonstration of how divinely inspired music can transcend the borders of category.
“Out of all the records we’ve done together, this has been the most natural,” Goldsmith insists. “The connection between the material, the Nashville guests, and the Blind Boys felt like destiny. Somewhere in history, these two almost identical styles of music – country and gospel - went their separate ways. This record brings them back together.”