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Blind Boys of Alabama change directions, go country (gospel)

Friday, February 18, 2011 – Five time Grammy Award and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winners The Blind Boys of Alabama will change directions and go country. Make that traditional country-gospel album for the first time in their 70-year career with a new CD out on May 3rd on Saguaro Road Records.

Jamey Johnson co-produced the album and performs on it along with Vince Gill, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr., Lee Ann Womack and The Oak Ridge Boys.

"There wasn't one person who didn't bawl like a baby or bust their heart open at least once," Johnson told the New York Times recently.

"It's been a dream of mine to do a country gospel album and we couldn't have found a better partner than Jamey" said Jimmy Carter, the last original Blind Boy still touring with the band. "This album beautifully combines two of the seminal roots of the American music tree, gospel and country music."

The concept started with Carter's longstanding love of country and his desire to do a traditional country-tinged gospel album. Last year, his idea started to take shape when the Blind Boys were asked to curate a series of shows at the Lincoln Center Festival in New York.

One of the sold-out nights featured Ralph Stanley, Ray Benson (Asleep At The Wheel) and Allison Moorer. Soon after, they met Johnson and asked him to join them in singing the traditional song Down By The Riverside at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

The band had already been planning to make a country record with their production collaborator Chris Goldsmith, who had enlisted the help of veteran Nashville drummer Chad Cromwell (Neil Young, Mark Knopfler). Johnson then brought in bassist Kevin 'Swine' Grantt (Brad Paisley, Daryl Worley) and guitarist Reggie Young.

Among the songs are Hank Jr.'s re-working of his father's I Saw the Light. The disc was recorded live in just a few days at Ben Folds' Javelina Studio.

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Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Sweeney maintains her musical integrity – Sunny Sweeney has gone the big label route and even earned a hit with "From a Table Away," but truth be told, she's better off without the baggage of the bigs, especially given the consistent quality and musical vision that was so clearly and admirably on display on this evening. When the East Texas native started her career, she was... »»»
Concert Review: Live, Shelley proves she's the real deal – After the concert, Joan Shelley was greeted by a fan at the near sold-out club who had never seen her before. The first timer told the Louisville, Ky.-based folk-oriented singer that she wanted to see for herself if Shelley's vocals were the real deal live. The fan walked away mighty impressed -based on her comments - and it was easy to see why.... »»»
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