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Albums Of The Week: Blind Boys of Alabama | Echoes Of The South

Hallelujah! After six years away, the gospel legends are back — and in typically fine form — on their latest superb collection of stirring spirituals, soul classics and more.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Blind Boys of Alabama’s new album Echoes Of The South finds the Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductees coming home to honour those they’ve lost — and deliver a bold declaration of how far they still plan to go.

The 11-song collection is a portrait of perseverance from a group well-versed in overcoming incredible odds — from singing for pocket change in the Jim Crow South to performing for three different American presidents, soundtracking the Civil Rights Movement and helping define modern gospel music as we know it. Recently, the group’s decades-long mission of spreading light and love has taken on even deeper context, as they’ve reckoned with the loss of two of their own: Paul Beasley and Benjamin Moore, both longtime members of the Boys’ tight-knit family. Echoes Of The South is released in their honor — as well as for the group’s recently retired leader Jimmy Carter.

On a collection named after the first radio show that ever booked The Blind Boys as guests (out of WSGN in Birmingham), Echoes Of The South is an album all about coming home. Tracked fully in their home state at The NuttHouse Recording Studio in Sheffield, the album also marks the group’s first full-length release for Alabama’s own Grammy-winning indie label Single Lock Records.

The Blind Boys’ rich history and own personal touches can be felt everywhere on Echoes Of The South, from including Braille on the album cover for the first time to a tracklist of the music that’s most inspired them over their careers: Long-lost gospel classics, traditional spirituals and timeless R&B/soul cuts made famous by artists like Staples and Curtis Mayfield. Teaming with each of their co-producers, these recordings transcend genre and era to touch deep and fundamental elements of friendship, joy, gratitude and persistence.

Echoes Of The South is The Blind Boys of Alabama’s first album since 2017’s Almost Home. Hailed as “gospel titans,” The Blind Boys have collaborated with artists as diverse as Stevie Wonder, Chrissie Hynde, Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Peter Gabriel, Bonnie Raitt and Bon Iver. They were nominated for a 2023 Grammy for Best Americana Performance (their 12th total nomination) and performed on The View earlier this year to help celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“The spirit of The Blind Boys isn’t about what you can’t do; it’s about what you can do,” says singer Ricky McKinnie. “As long as we stay true to that, as long as we sing songs that touch the heart, this group will live on forever.”