Grammy winners headline fundraiser for League For the Blind & Disabled
FORT WAYNE—A group of living legends will visit the Summit City as part of a special and important celebration.
The League for the Blind & Disabled is scheduled to celebrate March as National Disability Awareness Month by bringing the internationally acclaimed Blind Boys of Alabama to the Embassy Theatre in downtown Fort Wayne, 8 p.m., March 23.
The legacy of the Blind Boys of Alabama is too long and rich to fully explore in one article, but portions of the group’s history posted on their website (http://www.blindboys.com/about/biography/) explain a major part of the importance of the group to the history of American music:
“The Blind Boys of Alabama formed at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in 1939. The group toiled for almost 40 years almost exclusively on the black gospel circuit, playing in churches, auditoriums, and even stadiums across the country. Their recorded output, reaching back to 1948 with their hit ‘I Can See Everybody’s Mother But Mine’ on the Veejay label, is widely recognized as being influential for many gospel, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll artists.
“The Blind Boys had their own chance to ‘cross over’ to popular music in the 1950s, along with their gospel friend and contemporary Sam Cooke, but stayed true to their calling. In the 1960s, they joined the Civil Rights movement, performing at benefits for Dr. Martin Luther King.
“They toiled in the vineyards all through the 1970s as the world of popular music began to pass them by. But in 1983, their career reached a turning point with their crucial role in the smash hit and Obie Award-winning play ‘The Gospel at Colonus,’ which brought the Blind Boys timeless sound to an enthusiastic new audience.
“In the 1990s they received two Grammy nominations and performed at the White House. In recent years the Blind Boys were awarded five Grammy Awards and their musical brethren have paid homage to their legacy and their continued relevance by asking them to contribute and collaborate on new projects. The Blind Boys have appeared on recordings with Bonnie Raitt, Randy Travis, k.d. lang, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Charlie Musselwhite, Susan Tedeschi, Solomon Burke, Marty Stuart, Asleep at the Wheel and many others.
“The Blind Boys of Alabama have profoundly influenced an entire generation (or two) of gospel, soul, R&B and rock musicians and are still blazing trails after all these years.”
The Gospel Hall of Fame group has won four Grammy Awards, a National Endowment for the Arts, Lifetime Achievement Award and performs with some of country music’s greatest artists in their newest county gospel album, “Take the High Road.” Their 2008 album, “Down in New Orleans,” won the Best Traditional Gospel Album at the 51st Grammy Awards and Traditional Gospel Album of the Year at the Dove Awards the following year. As song from the record, “Free at Last,” won Traditional Gospel Record Song of the Year.
Among the group’s other recent collaborations are two with acclaimed artist Ben Harper—the 2004 “There Will Be a Light,” and the followup 2005 “Live at the Apollo.”
Tickets for this fundraising concert are $13, $33 and $43, with group discounts available (10 percent off for groups of 10 or more). Tickets are available through the Embassy Box Office, (260) 424-5665, or at TicketMaster.com. All proceeds from this event support services at the League for the Blind & Disabled in Fort Wayne, a nonprofit organization that serves people with all types of severe disabilities of all ages in Northeast Indiana.
For more about the Blind Boys of Alabama, visit www.blindboys.com.