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One of the lead singers of the Blind Boys Of Alabama dies aged 75.
75 YEAR OLD gospel patriarch and baritone singer with the Blind Boys Of Alabama died in the USA on 9th March 2005. Last month the Blind Boys Of Alabama's album recorded with Ben Harper 'There Will Be A Light' won the group a fourth successive Grammy. Scott and the rest of the group were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall Of Fame in 2003.
Scott, born in Notasulga, Alabama, was blind from birth and had been sent by his parents to be educated at the Alabama Institute For The Negro Blind. He once described the school as being "like a prison, but they did teach us how to read music in Braille and how to sing." There he met Clarence Fountain and Jimmy Carter, with whom he formed the nucleus of a vocal group, initially known as The Happy Land Jubilee Singers, in 1939. After graduating in 1944, the trio and two friends launched their career as the Five Blind Boys Of Alabama, with Scott providing guitar accompaniment. They were one of several similar groups - notably the Five Blind Boys Of Mississippi - performing the jubilee style of gospel singing (a lively strand of gospel, incorporating jazz and blues idioms) at church services and denominational conventions across the south.
The Blind Boys made numerous recordings for such labels as Specialty, Andex, Gospel, Vee Jay and Hob and were popular on the Afro American gospel programmes of the '50s and '60s but it wasn't until 1983 when they performed in a Broadway music The Gospel At Colonus (which retold the story of Oedipus in the context of a Pentecostal service) that the group had their first exposure to a large white audience. In 1992 their album 'Deep River' which included gospel readings of artists such as Bob Dylan was noticed in mainstream circles while in 2001 they won a Grammy for their 'Spirit Of The Century' album recorded for Peter Gabriel's Read World label. Touring extensively the group, by now a trio, took their rugged gospel music to vast new audiences. Their albums 'Higher Ground' (2003) and 'Go Tell It On The Mountain' (2004) also won Grammies. Scott retired from touring last year (both he and fellow lead singer Clarence Fountain had by then become too weak to stand for a whole concert). Scott sang the lead for several tracks on the group's soon to be released album 'Atom Bomb'. He is survived by his wife, his mother and his sister.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.