Forming in the glee club of The Alabama Institute for the Blind in Talladega in 1944, The Blind Boys of Alabama have become a statewide – and nationwide – musical treasure. And though the Gospel ensemble is now in its seventh decade of existence, the group continues to forge new ground and grow its fan base. In addition to headlining shows, the Blind Boys can be found at festivals alongside Classic Rock acts and Jambands. In September, the five-time Grammy-winning group released the CD I’ll Find A Way produced by Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver). On Friday, December 20, the Blind Boys will perform at Workplay Theatre. Recently, we caught up with founding member – and Birmingham resident – Jimmy Carter by phone from Seattle.
Brent Thompson: Jimmy, thanks for your time. We are really enjoying I’ll Find A Way and we are looking forward to your Birmingham show.
Jimmy Carter: We’re glad you’re enjoying it. We’re going to be singing some songs from that and we’ll be doing some Christmas music also. We’ve been looking forward to it.
BT: If you will, talk about the recording of I’ll Find A Way.
JC: The guy that produced the record is named Justin Vernon – his stage name is Bon Iver. He’s in Wisconsin and he has a studio in his house. We went to his house in Wisconsin last December – cold, snow and everything. But his house was warm and his heart was warm, too. It was a good experience. We had several guests play on the album – some I knew, some I didn’t know [laughs].
BT: Do you ever spend time looking back on your career and the awards you’ve garnered?
JC: I don’t spend much time on it. When the Blind Boys started out, we just loved to sing Gospel music and we loved to sing to the people. When we started out, we had no idea that we’d get this far but we thank God that we did and we’re going to move on until we can’t go any further.
BT: Other than the upcoming Birmingham show, what are your plans in the near future?
JC: We’re going to do two shows in Atlanta on Saturday and Sunday and be off for Christmas. We’ve got a show in Boston for New Year’s Eve and we’re going to play 2014 by ear. Whatever comes, we’ll be ready for it.
Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $25 and can be purchased at www.workplay.com