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Members of The Blind Boys of Alabama sing together in Tempelton Memorial Auditorium in Athens on Sept. 13, 2023.

The Blind Boys of Alabama give OU a jolt of soul and Black gospel

English is a universal language. Globally, many people are taught it, speak it or have digested English media regardless of dialect. However, the language that all people understand fluently is music. Whether you are a producer or a consumer, music is spoken by all regardless of race, nationality, gender, sex, religion or ability. 

We have seen musical pioneers from around the world break down walls with their music and message. They have set precedence from simply being who they are while doing what they love. Some are not only pioneers but innovators even decades after their debuts.

In 1939, the Blind Boys of Alabama made their debut performing at, what was then named, the Alabama Institute for the Negro Deaf and Blind in Talladega, Alabama. Their journey through the 40s, 50s and early 60s would lead to them being one of the top Black gospel groups of all time. Along with being a key part of the sound of the civil rights movement. 

Their long-reigning career has transcended eras; their sound, talent and artistry have been their tools in becoming five-time Grammy Award–winners, receiving a lifetime achievement Grammy, Gospel Hall of Fame inductions and opportunities to perform for three U.S. presidents at the White House. They have achieved much in their career spanning 75 years. 

On Wednesday, Sept. 13, Ohio University had the honor of having them perform at the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Theater. People from all over came to see them perform. Some were regulars who came to see shows often.

The performance was exuberant. The energy on stage moved everyone in the crowd. They sang their classics like “Higher Ground,” their cover of Steve Wonder’s hit song, “Soldier” from "Fighting Temptations" and “Nobody’s Fault but Mine,” which can be heard on the soundtrack for "Madea Goes to Jail.” They also performed newer songs from their latest album "Echoes of the South."

From the crowd work to the vocals, the guitar and piano solos, it was truly an experience. The Blind Boys of Alabama brought the air around them and the crowd to life. It was an experience of a lifetime. 

The show ended with an air of positivity and joy left as a result of the passionate musicians. Showgoers left the theater with high spirits. The Blind Boys of Alabama are definitely a group worth seeing. 


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