Arts and Entertainment
|After eight decades, Blind Boys of Alabama set sights on music|
|June 21 concert in Rock Hill with Marc Cohn|
|Published Thursday, May 30, 2019 1:06 pm|
|PHOTO | REGGIE THOMAS|
|The Blind Boys of Alabama and Marc Cohn will perform in Rock Hill June 21.|
The Blind Boys of Alabama aren’t blind – they just can’t see.
It’s phrase Blind Boys member Ricky McKinnie says “means that I lost my sight, but not my direction. And that means that there is nothing that I can’t do if God is on my side.”
The artists haven’t let anything keep them from singing gospel music since the group first formed about 80 years ago. They will perform on June 21 in Rock Hill, South Carolina, with Marc Cohn at the Old Town Amphitheater.
“It’s been a wonderful experience. His music and our music sort of go hand-in-hand,” McKinnie said. “We complement one another and we’ve been having a great time.”
Cohn and The Blind Boys began their relationship with collaboration on the 2017 album “Almost Home.” Six months later, Cohn was made an honorary member on stage during a show.
“The Blind Boys are a group that God allowed to let people know that a disability doesn’t have to be a handicap,” said McKinnie. “It’s not about what you can’t do, it’s about what you do that makes a difference and I’ve learned that a disability is just a limitation and we all have limitations.”
The Blind Boys began as the Happy Land Jubilee Singers after forming a group at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind. Almost 10 years after their first performance together, they performed against Mississippi’s Jackson Harmoneers, another blind quartet, which led to a name change: The Five Blind Boys of Alabama.
The gospel titans and five-time Grammy Award winners consist of one original member in Jimmy Carter along with McKinnie, Joey Williams, Paul Beasley and Ben Moore.
“The song that illuminates with me is ‘Amazing Grace,’” said McKinnie. “Grace is something that you can’t buy. It’s something that’s given to you freely. And it doesn’t matter who you are, God loves you and that’s the way I try to be. I’ve learned that people need people and working together works. And also, you can’t treat everybody the same, but you can treat everybody right.”
In listening to “Almost Home,” it’s not hard to recognize the tribute to the original members of The Blind Boys and the group’s story.
“One thing I’ve learned in my being with The Blind Boys,” said McKinnie. “If you do the work and keep the faith, God is going to work it out for you.”
With the Blind Boys’ performance with Cohn in Rock Hill approaching, McKinnie wants fans to remember one thing: “Don’t miss it when the Boys are back in town.”
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