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The Blind Boys Of Alabama: Gospel Pioneers

A four-time Grammy-winning gospel group, The Blind Boys of Alabama first formed at Alabama's Talladega Institute for the Blind in 1939. It was there that the original five members came together under the name The Happyland, which would be changed to the current name in 1948. In its incredible 70-year career, the group has released more than 60 albums and been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. The Blind Boys' latest release, the Grammy-nominated Down in New Orleans, reveals a never-ending love for infusing new styles into gospel music.

Maintaining their traditional four-part harmonies, the Blind Boys' members have experimented with many sounds within the gospel tradition. Their blend of traditional and contemporary gospel, soul and R&B once confined them to smaller venues, but after collaborating with artists such as Mavis Staples, Tom Petty, Prince, Peter Gabriel and Ben Harper, the group has become a global sensation.

In Down in New Orleans, the group infuses gospel with elements of Dixieland jazz, soul and funk to create a virtual timeline of classic American music. With additional backup support from New Orleans instrumentalists and legendary musicians such as Allen Toussaint, the album ranks among The Blind Boys of Alabama's finest.

Copyright NPR 2016.

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