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Grammy, Dove winners bring music to Toy F. Reid center

Staff Report • Sep 20, 2013 at 1:09 PM

The Blind Boys of Alabama started singing gospel in 1939 in Talladega. Seventy-four years later, the group is still raising roofs around the world with its legendary harmonies and gospel message covering the spectrum of musical styles.

“We love what we do,” original member Jimmy Carter said in an interview with the Sydney (Australia) Opera House. “We have been singing gospel all these many years and we have not deviated from that and we don’t plan to. Gospel has a message that we like to carry that to the people. That’s why we are going to continue to do it as long as we can ...

“We try to make you feel something that you’ve never felt before … We want those who come sad to leave happy and those who come happy to stay that way.”

The Blind Boys will bring that spirited message to East Tennessee Thursday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Toy F. Reid Eastman Employee Center, Kingsport, co-sponsored by Mary B. Martin School of the Arts and the City of Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts.

“They are an excellent opening act for our season – the high energy, their reputation,” says Mary B. Martin School of the Arts Director Anita DeAngelis. “I think this will be one of the concerts that long-term that will be on our list of most memorable.”

The Blind Boys of Alabama first got together at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in 1939 and performed for nearly 40 years on the black gospel circuit, in churches, auditoriums and orchestra halls around the country. Since then, the group has had 30 albums, won five Grammys and four Dove Awards, has been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, performed for three presidents at the White House and has been featured on The Tonight Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Today Show, CBS Saturday Morning, 60 Minutes and Austin City Limits. They have performed at Carnegie Hall and with other artists including Prince, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Tom Waits, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Allen Toussaint, Ben Harper, Lou Reed, Randy Travis and Jamey Johnson.

The Blind Boys are known the worldwide for their interpretations of traditional gospel favorites, such as “Amazing Grace,” “I Shall Not Walk Alone” and “Wade in the Water,” and less-traditional songs like Norman Greenbaum’s 1970 hit “Spirit in the Sky” and “House of the Rising Sun.” The New York Times said the gospel legends’ “close harmonies … leap heavenward.”

For more information, visit the group’s website, www.blindboys.com. To purchase tickets to the concert, call 392-8414 or visit www.EngageKingsport.com.

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