The Blind Boys of Alabama

It's been 70(!) years since a few students in their early teens at the Talladega Institute for the Negro Deaf and Blind in Birmingham hit the road as the Happy Land Jubilee Singers. Decades later, as the Blind Boys of Alabama, they're an institution themselves, still singing gospel standards—and far more—as if their lives depended on it, raising up soul-stirring, gloriously rich harmonies. The group's Christmas show has become an institution, too, since the 2003 release of their holiday album, Go Tell It on the Mountain. And this year should be no exception, promising dynamic arrangements of Christmas hymns, carols, and poppier noel nuggets, reflecting the eclectic directions the Blind Boys have pursued in recent years. Numerous personnel changes over the years have left the current Blind Boys with a critical mix of wily vets and savvy younger members. Former Talladega student Jimmy Carter took over as leader a couple of years ago after longtime frontman Clarence Fountain departed due to health issues and apparently the dreaded creative differences. The Blind Boys' joyous noise should be doubly infectious at Yule time. (Photo by Rob Stemple)
Wed., Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m., 2009

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