DECEMBER 2013: The Blind Boys Of Alabama Featured On The Colbert Report For The Second Time In Just Over One Month, Plus Tavis Smiley Interviews Jimmy Carter Again
The Blind Boys of Alabama was featured on The Colbert Report for the second time in just over one month on December 19, 2013. This appearance follows The Blind Boys' November 13 interview and concert where they performed "Amazing Grace" and also "There Will Never Be Any Peace" off their new CD, I'll Find A Way, produced by Justin Vernon (Bon Iver). Their performance is part of a special holiday series titled "Christmas Carol Week." Other musical guests featured as part of "Christmas Carol Week" in addition to The Blind Boys include Gregg Allman, The National, Cyndi Lauper, Aaron Neville, Alan Cumming and wounded soldiers from MusiCorps. Also featured as a guest on the December 19 show was actor Ben Stiller. For view the full episode, please visit colbertnation.com
Blind Boys founding member Jimmy Carter was also interviewed on Tavis Smiley Radio the weekend of December 6, 2013. During Tavis' interview, the two discussed Carter's lengthy career of 70-plus years and the gospel group's newest recording, I'll Find A Way. Carter was also featured on Tavis' PBS show on October 9, 2013.
NOVEMBER 2013: The Blind Boys Of Alabama Featured On The Colbert Report On 11/13/13, Raves On New CD From Rolling Stone And People Magazines
The Blind Boys of Alabama will be featured on The Colbert Report on Comedy Central on November 13, 2013 at 11:30pm EST. The show will include both an interview and performance by The Blind Boys and will be rebroadcast three times throughout the following day (see comedycentral.com/tv-schedule for rebroadcast times). For more info and videos of the Blind Boys' appearance on the Colbert Report to be posted after the show, see colbertnation.com.
The Blind Boys' new CD, I'll Find A Way, produced by Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), has garnered acclaim from the likes of People Magazine and Rolling Stone who stated, "The Blind Boys of Alabama haven't lost their spark over their seven-plus decade, and on their new track 'Jubilee,' the veteran gospel group finds bliss with Patty Griffin."
The Blind Boys "I'll Find A Way" tour will bring them across North America and Europe with a stop in Brazil slated for 11/16. A recent review of their live performance at Austin City Limits Festival by the Austin Chronicle proclaimed, "The Blind Boys of Alabama, on the other hand, could've raised the dead with their heavenly harmonies and four piece backing band."
The Blind Boys of Alabama were featured on NPR's Morning Edition on October 2, 2013. On the program, original Blind Boys member Jimmy Carter was interviewed about the times their music has lived through, starting in the Jim Crow era and continuing through the civil rights movement to the release of their newest album, I'll Find A Way. The program also included an interview with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), the producer of I'll Find A Way, who stated "I've been kind of on a roll doing my own thing for a while, and I hadn't had that magical opportunity in life to sort of be tested by a great thing. Making a record with The Blind Boys of Alabama was that great thing for me, and I truly tried to step up to that plate."
Jimmy Carter was also recently featured on PBS's Tavis Smiley on October 9, 2013. Tavis' interview with Jimmy discusses the Blind Boys' new album and how their sound continues to help define decades-old gospel traditions.
The Blind Boys' performances during the Austin City Limits Festival included notable collaborations with Justin Vernon and 2013 Grammy-nominated Rosebud artist, Ruthie Foster, at Stubb's Amphitheater on October 9th. The group also recorded and released an exclusive music video for the festival on which they perform a stripped down version of "There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God Is Seated At The Conference Table)" from I'll Find A Way. The video was premiered on Austin 360.
I'll Find a Way has received rave reviews and a major Billboard feature which proclaimed, "I'll Find a Way builds on the minimalist yet emotionally resonant template set by the Blind Boys' first Grammy-winning album, 2001's Spirit of the Century, finding new vitality in the alternately modern and deferential sensibilities of Vernon and company."
The Blind Boys were also featured along with Exene Cervenka (X) on Live at the Ice House, a new show by American roots duo, William Pilgrim & The All Grows Up. The episode also includes activist and community organizer Kevin Alexander Gray joining the Blind Boys for a day of recording and discussion at East West Studios in Hollywood. Watch the full episode at liveicehouse.com.
JULY 2013: The Blind Boys Of Alabama's I'll Find A Way, Produced By Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Out October 1st - Plus Pitchfork Debuts New Single, "Every Grain of Sand"
The Blind Boys of Alabama are set to release I'll Find A Way on October 1, 2013 via Sony Masterworks. Justin Vernon of Bon Iver produced the album which was recorded at his rural Wisconsin April Base Studios (where he also recorded Bon Iver's 2012 Grammy-winning album, Bon Iver). I'll Find A Way features special guest appearances by the tUnE-yArDs' Merrill Garbus, My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden, Patty Griffin, Sam Amidon, and Casey Dienel of White Hinterland. The album contains eleven songs hand-picked by Vernon and his band mate Phil Cook, that range from civil rights and traditional gospel anthems to a revamping of 2012's "I Am Not Waiting Anymore" by Field Report.
The album also features a cover of Bob Dylan's "Every Grain of Sand" on which Vernon himself sings a duet with the Blind Boys' leader, Jimmy Carter. Pitchfork debuted the track on July 17. Vernon said about the soul-searching duet, "Jimmy and I are coming from such different places and yet we're singing about the same thing. There are two perspectives in that song and they're colliding." "It's not just singing," explained the 82 year old Carter about the new album. "We're bringing the message to the people and that message is the good news of God. We sing from the heart, and what comes from the heart reaches the heart. If you have any feeling in you, you will feel the Blind Boys." I'll Find A Way follows 2011's Take The High Road and marks the Blind Boy's ninth studio album of the twenty-first century. Originally formed in the late 1930s, in the last ten years alone they have won five Grammys, four Gospel Music Awards and multiple invitations to sing at the White House. The Blind Boys are currently gearing up for an international tour in support of their new record.
The Blind Boys of Alabama appear on the NPR special with their version of the traditional song "Free At Last". They can also be heard on the songs "This May Be the Last Time" with Anthony Hamilton and on "We Shall Overcome" again with Anthony Hamilton plus Joss Stone, Mary Mary and John Legend - the latter song having been recorded for the soundtrack to the 2009 civil rights documentary film, Revolution (written and directed by Dan Sturman and, two-time Oscar winning documentary and feature film writer-producer-director, Bill Guttentag). The program's playlist also includes a version of Allen Toussaint's songs "Yes We Can Can" performed by The Pointer Sisters and "Hercules" performed by Aaron Neville. The song "The Motor City Is Burning" as recorded by John Lee Hooker. Mavis Staples sings "Down in Mississippi", "Eyes on the Prize" and the iconic protest anthem "We Shall Not Be Moved". Mavis also appears alongside her father, Pop Staples, and her sisters as The Staples Singers on four tracks. One of the four is the Staples Singers' classic "I'll Take You There". The group was a familiar sight during the peak of the movement given their rallying songs and close friendship with the Movement's voice, Martin Luther King, Jr.
In related news, both The Blind Boys of Alabama and Allen Toussaint have new releases due out this Fall. The Blind Boys of Alabama's new CD, I'll Find A Way, was produced by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and will feature other very special guests. It is set to be released on October 1st. Allen Toussaint's new CD and DVD, Songbook, which was recorded live over two nights at New York's Joe's Pub, is set for release on September 24 on Rounder Records. Mavis Staples released her latest CD One True Vine in June. One True Vine is the follow up to Mavis' 2010 Grammy winning CD, You Are Not Alone. The new CD has already garnered rave reviews worldwide and hit the Top 100 of Billboard's Pop charts in its first week of release.
MAY 2013: The Blind Boys Of Alabama's New Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) Produced Album Out This Fall, Plus All-Star Benefit CD Featuring The Blind Boys
The Blind Boys of Alabama have signed with Sony Masterworks and will release a new album this fall. The new album, produced by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, will feature an array of special guests, who, along with the album's title, will be announced at a later date. Vernon's production credits also include work with James Blake, Kathleen Edwards, Land of Talk, and also on The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Be sure to watch in the coming months for more information on the new album as well as international tour dates.
The Blind Boys also recently joined an all-star group of artists for We'll Paint You A Rainbow, a benefit album supporting HEARTbeats Foundation, a nonprofit that strives to help at-risk children internationally. Others featured on the album include Paul Simon, Joan Baez, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, composer John Williams, and opera singers Jessye Norman and Christine Brewer. The album was released worldwide on April 8, 2013. For more information, please visit HEARTbeats Foundation at heartbeatsforchildren.org. The Blind Boys of Alabama's current lineup includes founding vocalist Jimmy Carter, along with vocalists Eric McKinnie (also on drums), Ben Moore, Bishop Billy Bowers, guitarist Joey Williams, bassist Tracy Pierce and keyboard player Peter Levin.
MARCH 2013: The Blind Boys Of Alabama And Bettye LaVette Featured At Prince Tribute Concert At Carnegie Hall
Bettye LaVette and The Blind Boys of Alabama were featured at a benefit concert in tribute to The Music of Prince at Carnegie Hall in New York City on March 7, 2013. This is the ninth year in which Michael Dorf, the owner of City Winery in New York City, has put on the benefit to raise money for arts education programs (this year's event raised $100,000). Other stars performing at the event included Elvis Costello, Talib Kweli, Booker T. Jones, The Roots, as well as Chris Rock, Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph (SNL). This is Bettye LaVatte's third time performing at the benefit in the last four years, her past performances being in tribute to Neil Young and The Who. At the event, Bettye revamped the Prince classic "Kiss" into what what Rolling Stone called "a sly, skeletal blues", while The Blind Boys covered "The Cross" with Fred Armisen on drums.
The Blind Boys' rehearsal performance at City Winery on March 6 in preparation for the Prince tribute concert garnered solid reviews from various news outlets. Okay Player stated that their performance of "The Cross" was "a showstopper, nay heartstopper, even in rehearsal... dishwashers and paper-shufflers within a 1-block radius stopped what they were doing and lifted their heads in an attempt to identify the heavenly sound. A room full of stars looked star-struck", and Rolling Stone called the event "a behind-the-scenes look into how all-star concerts come together... seamlessly." That same night of the rehearsal, The Blind Boys also performed live with The Allman Brothers Band at The Beacon Theatre in New York City. The Blind Boys performed three songs with The Allman Brothers Band including "There Will Be a Light" featuring Joan Osborne, The Allman Brother's "Soulshine" and The Blind Boys' interpretation of "Amazing Grace" to the tune of "The House of The Rising Sun".
SEPTEMBER 2012: Rosebud Artists Featured on Preservation Hall Jazz Band's 50th Anniversary Recording
Rosebud artists Allen Toussaint, The Blind Boys of Alabama and Trombone Shorty are featured on Preservation Hall Jazz Band's new CD, St. Peter & 57th St. The album, released September 25th on Rounder Records, was recorded at a live performance at the prestigious Carnegie Hall this past January in New York City where Toussaint, The Blind Boys and Trombone Shorty joined PHJB on stage along with other special guests including Steve Earle, Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), My Morning Jacket and GIVERS.
The release celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Preservation Hall and its mission of preserving the musical culture and heritage of New Orleans. A portion of the album's sale will benefit Preservation Hall's ongoing music outreach program to pass down the traditions of New Orleans music to younger generations.
Rolling Stone premiered the track "It Ain't My Fault" which features Allen Toussaint, Trombone Shorty and Yasiin Bey (a.k.a. Mos Def). "It Ain't My Fault," which PHJB, Bey and Shorty collaborated on in the past, has been a tool for protest in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and The BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. Click here to listen to the track on RollingStone.com.
To see Allen Toussaint, The Blind Boys of Alabama and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue perform live, see Tour Dates >>
JUNE 2012: The Blind Boys of Alabama Join Tom Petty For East Canada Dates
Thanks to Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers who presented The Blind Boys of Alabama as special guests for their shows last week in Eastern Canada.
The Telegram (St. John's NF) declared "gospel kings the Blind Boys of Alabama brought the salvation, with a tight band and heavenly harmonies. ...An uplifting beginning with a rousing end"
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers posted a Thank You on their official website noting "Everyone with the Blind Boys of Alabama - from the band to their crew - were incredible to have for these Canadian dates, and the entire Heartbreakers family will miss having them out on the tour" (read the full article)
The Blind Boys of Alabama and Rosebud extend their thanks to Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers for adding the band to this run of dates. Catch the Blind Boys performing live on stage, please see Tour Dates >>
MAY 2012: The Blind Boys of Alabama Celebrate Amnesty International's 50th Anniversary
Inspired by Amnesty International's work and perseverance and by the Arab Spring uprising, music veteran Carl Carlton and his partners co-writer Ben Campbell, music executive/activist Jochen Wilms, and Art for Amnesty founder Bill Shipsey teamed up with The Blind Boys of Alabama and other artists such as Carly Simon, Ewan McGregor, Kris Kristofferson, Warren Haynes, Taj Mahal, and the late Levon Helm to create this tribute.
Throughout the years, The Blind Boys of Alabama have dedicated much of their energy towards important causes around the globe. It was very natural for them to partake in the "Toast To Freedom." project. Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty said, "Human rights are everybody's business. I would like to thank all the people who gave their time to make this project happen. I hope 'Toast To Freedom' will become a major source of inspiration in the coming years." For more information on the "Toast To Freedom" project, visit ToastToFreedom.org.
The legendary Blind Boys of Alabama were founded in 1939 at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind. With a career spanning more than 70 years, the Blind Boys' accolades include 5 GRAMMY Awards, a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award, and recognition from 3 U.S. Presidential Administrations. Catch the Blind Boys performing live on stage, please see Tour Dates >>
Blind Boys of Alabama at Dr. John's Louis Armstrong Tribute at Brooklyn Academy of Music
Thursday, March 29, 2012 (photo by Dino Perrucci)