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Sunday, March 20, 2005

R.I.P. George Scott

The Blind Boys of Alabama have been singing, recording, and performing gospel music together since 1939, after forming at the Talladega Institute for the Blind. They have won 4 Grammy Awards in as many years, with their most recent coming just this year (a collaboration with musician Ben Harper). They have been touring almost non-stop for nearly 70 consecutive years.

On March 8, 2005, founding member (one of three left in the group) George Scott, died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 75. (SEE: Reuters Story)

I discovered the Blind Boys only a few years ago when I saw them open for Peter Gabriel. The Blind Boys have been on Gabriel's Real World label for some time now and have been finding new audiences with each song they release.

Since being musically reborn back in 1992 they've maintained their faith to their Gospel roots appeal and enhanced their appeal by fusing their fantastic and passionate harmonies with a more modern blues sound. "Spirit of the Century", one of my all-time favorite albums of music, illustrates this wonderful marriage of blues & gospel perfectly.

I came late to the party with regard to the Blind Boys. I suppose it is nothing to be ashamed of since they'd been performing for well over 60 years before I'd ever heard of them. Sure I missed out on them for a long time, but then again, unless you were a gospel fan, they could have gone another 60 years under your personal radar.

While I intend on finding as many of their earlier recordings as possible, their Real World releases are among my favorites so far. Their Christmas album, "Go Tell it On the Mountain" (their ONLY Christmas release) is, in my opinion, the finest collection of holiday tunes ever recorded. "Higher Ground" is also frequently in my CD player.

On March 15, the same day George Scott was laid to rest, "Atom Bomb", their latest offering was released. I'll be buying my copy today.

PLEASE, visit the various Blind Boys sites I've linked. Listen to the audio tracks and watch the video clips. You do not have to be a fan of Gospel music to fall in love with the great act. You can see the Blind Boys performing LIVE at the 36th Annual NAACP Image Awards, airing March 25 from 8pm to 10pm on FOX. The band will continue to tour and perform and will be on tour this summer.


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