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The Blind Boys of Alabama ‘Take the High Road’ in song

The Blind Boys of Alabama appeared in Washington more than a year ago with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band performing music from their latest Grammy winner, “Down in New Orleans.” The proceeds of that album went toward the city’s restoration.


Now they return to raise their glorious voices in “Take the High Road,” the group’s first country gospel album.


Lead singer Jimmy Carter has been with the ensemble since the beginning 72 years ago at Alabama’s Talladega Institute for the Blind. He and his colleagues grew up singing and harmonizing in the church, so it is no wonder that their five Grammy Awards and five Lifetime Achievement Awards were topped by their 2007 induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.


“We’re hoping this new album will earn a sixth Grammy,” Carter said. “All the songs are uplifting and thoughtful. We’re testing the water as far as concert music goes. It takes us in a new direction with lots of great guest artists, including Hank Williams Jr., Willie Nelson, Lee Ann Womack, Vince Gill and the Oak Ridge Boys. My favorite numbers are the title song and ‘I Know a Place.’ It has deep, deep meaning and a beautiful melody.”


The Blind Boys of Alabama are proud to share their music and spirituality with the world. Carter is the only remaining founding member who performs regularly. The positive public response and many rewards continually energize him and the current members, keeping them at the top of their game.


During the past decade, they have collaborated and toured with numerous famous artists, among them Taj Mahal, Prince, Aaron Neville, Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples. They have appeared on the radio and TV shows of Imus, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and Davis Letterman, and have been featured at the Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland and the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C.


Thinking back upon the highlights of his career, Carter recalls more than can fill a page, but foremost in his heart are the performances at the White House for three presidents, George Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The second-biggest thrill was his band’s first Grammy Award in 2002 for “Spirit of the Century.” Another memory close to his heart was the response from the people of New Orleans to the proceeds from “Down in New Orleans.”


“I told them we couldn’t use hammers and nails, but we could sing and give them hope,” he said. “Our greatest pleasure comes from helping and touching people’s hearts. When I get on stage and hear the audience response, that is my reward.”