The Blind Boys of Alabama

Although the Blind Boys of Alabama have been singing gospel music for more than five decades, it's only recently that the've had the benefit of a major record company behind them. Led by founding member Clarence Fountain, the group has also featured Eric McKinney, George Scott, Caleb Butler, Johnny Fields, Jimmy Carter, Joey Williams, Donald Dillion, and Aubrey Blount. From their inception in the 1930s, when all were boys, the group's members turned their blindness into their chief selling point, and in fact, all members of the group except one are blind. They began singing when all were students at the Talladega Institute for the Deaf and Blind in Alabama, but didn't begin recording until 1948. As a youth, Fountain heard the legendary Golden Gate Quartet on the radio; the early Five Blind Boys of Alabama took their musical cues from that group. The group began singing professionally as the Happy Land Jubilee Singers, and for years lived a day-to-day, dollar-to-dollar existence touring the South.