Since forming in Alabama nearly 70 years ago, the Blind Boys of Alabama have become the country's preeminent gospel group. They've released dozens of albums and won numerous Grammys, and were inducted into the Gospel Hall of Fame in 2002. The group, which still features original member Jimmy Carter, offers an evening of spirited music, recorded live from WFUV and New York's Cutting Room club. The performance features a mid-set interview with the band and WFUV host Claudia Marshall.
Jimmy Carter, Clarence Fountain, and George Scott formed The Blind Boys of Alabama in 1939 while attending the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind. Scott died in 2005 at the age of 75.
Over the years, The Blind Boys' popularity has shifted, as segregated audiences made way for a multi-ethnic and secular fan base. In 2002, the group released Higher Ground, an album that reworked blues and pop hits as gospel songs.
"Music is music," Fountain tells NPR's Allison Keyes. "You can take any song you want to, and you can sing it in any tune you want to. That's to let you know that gospel and the blues go hand in hand. It's all about the words and whatever you are trying to portray, and we've always tried to make gospel as good as we can."
The Jan. 28 performance from the Cutting Room will feature Carter, along with more recent members Bishop Billy Bowers, Ben Moore, drummer Eric McKinnie, guitarists Caleb Butler and Joey Williams, and bassist Tracy Pierce.