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September 3, 2003


LA CROSSE, Wis.—The Blind Boys of Alabama deliver a pure-soul gospel sound as Viterbo kicks off the Bright Star Season with heart-pounding vigor on Tuesday, Sept. 23.

Drawing upon gospel’s deep reflections on life’s trials, The Blind Boys of Alabama master their music with haunting falsettos and vibrant, muscular harmonies.  They turn a rhythmic meditation into an eruption of eclectic soul and give new meaning to the gospel tradition and celebration.

In 1939, founding members Clarence Fountain, Jimmy Carter, and George Scott formed the group at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind and have since welcomed Joey Williams, Ricky McKinnie, and Bobby Butler.

The Blind Boys of Alabama reached a larger audience with their roles in the 1983 production of The Gospel at Colonnus as they reinvented such artists as Bob Dylan and Richard Thompson.  Then, on their Grammy Award-winning album, Spirit of the Century, they applied that same talent to The Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, and Ben Harper.

The group has also worked with a wide array of performers. Ben Harper’s work is featured on several of the tracks for their new album, Higher Ground.  "There was some great guitar interaction between Ben and Robert on the tune.  Ben’s got a very psychedelic sound, and there’s Robert, playing like he’s off in the Florida Everglades, just grooving.  It was a big jam," said producer John Chelew.  Higher Ground also contains classic and contemporary spiritual songs featuring compositions from Aretha Franklin, Prince, Stevie Wonder, and Funkadelic.

Local acoustic jazz and eclectic pop group the Chris Bucheit Trio will open for the Boys. The Chris Bucheit Trio includes: Chris Bucheit, songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist; Josh Shively, drums and backing vocals; and Neil Dreger, electric and acoustic bass.

The Blind Boys of Alabama are sponsored by Wisconsin Public Radio and supported, in part, by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the state of Wisconsin.

Show time is Tuesday, Sept. 23, at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are $28/22.  For information, contact the Viterbo University Box Office at 608-796-3100.

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