Oh yeah, we clash, we disagree a lot but that's healthy...we learned how to argue well, you know we argue but when the chips are down we are all for one another.
—Jimmy Carter, founding member of the Blind Boys of Alabama
"There was a school for the blind in Alabama, a little town called
Talladega, and every blind child that got an education came to that
school," says vocalist Jimmy Carter.
"That's how the group met, that's how they together, we started
singing together and we decided that the group would try to go
professional and so that's what we did in 1944."
That group came
to be known around the world as the Blind Boys of Alabama. 70 years later, a mix of founding and newer members are still
selling out arenas with their traditional gospel performances.
Vocalist Jimmy Carter reaches out to a fan during a recent performance.
member Carter, now in his 80s, doesn't have a hard time
finding motivation to keep up with the hectic touring and recording
schedule after all these years.
"I think the secret to that is...when
you love what you do, we love to sing gospel music and let people know
about Jesus Christ. When you love what you do, that keeps you
Beyond their deep, distinctive voices and energetic
personalities, the magic of a Blind Boys performance is the obvious
cohesion between all six singers. Beyond complementing each other
musically, band member often hold hands, leading each other across the
stage and down into the audience to get the crowd out of their seats.
But after decades of touring together, Carter admits things aren't always friendly. "Oh yeah, we clash, we disagree a lot but that's healthy...we
learned how to argue well, you know we argue but when the chips are down
we are all for one another".
The Blind Boys of Alabama have played Winnipeg
before and Carter says he loves the opportunity to sing in the great
outdoors. Concert goers can expect to see a upbeat, traditional gospel
performance with a robust rhythm section and a whole lot of personality.
When pressed as to whether the boys will ever try out something new,
Carter stated that they "never have, never will. Gospel is still gospel
as far as the Blind Boys are concerned."
The Blind Boys of Alabama hit the main stage at the Winnipeg Folk Festival on July 14.