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The Blind Boys of Alabama were formed in 1939. Over the years they have made an indelible impression with their music, gospel in the traditional spirit which in the last decade assimilated contemporary style and influences. Three of the founding members, Clarence Fountain, Jimmy Carter and George Scott (who died on March 9, 2005) got together in 2003 with Joey Williams, Ricky McKinnie, Bobby Butler, and Tracy Pierce, to record Go Tell It on The Mountain, their first Christmas album. Also in the studio were Mavis Staples, Aaron Neville, Chrissie Hynde and Michael Franti. Later that year The Blind Boys of Alabama and their friends on the record gave a concert at The Beacon Theatre in New York City. Augmenting the group that night were Charlie Musselwhite, Duke Robillard, Robert Randolph and John Medeski.
Most of the night was given over to gospel music and they get right off with a stinging version of "Roll On led by Fountain, their harmonies ringing loud and clear. Even as Fountain and Scott make their presence palpable, it is Carter who steals the thunder with his raw, powerful singing on the rousing "Someone Watches Over Me stirring the audience into holy fervour as he goes into the aisles and whips up a frenzy. Among the guests, Mavis Staples fits in perfectly especially on the vocal acrobats and the switching lines of "Born in Bethlehem. Scott leads Neville, whose uniquely soulful singing fits right in, into "People Get Ready with both Carter and Fountain contributing. The whole gang comes on stage for "Down by the Riverside, a pleasing end to an appealing concert.
The extras include three music videos, comments from The Blind Boys of Alabama and interviews and rehearsals. The interviews are particularly interesting with the best coming from Staples and Hynde, who reveals how she had to go into a pub in England and ask a customer to sing the top line melody of the traditional English Christmas song "In the Bleak Midwinter.
Track Listing: Run On; Go Tell it on the Mountain; Little Drummer Boy; If I Had a Hammer; Nobody's Fault but Mine; Born in Bethlehem; Joy to the World; People Get Ready; In the Bleak Midwinter; Higher Ground; Amazing Grace; Look Where He Brought Me From; Someone watches Over Me; Soldier; Down by the Riverside