We are very sad to announce that George Scott, one of the original members of the Blind Boys of Alabama, died in his sleep on Wednesday morning of complications from heart disease at his home in Durham, NC. He was 75.
The booming baritone voice of the group which formed at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in the late 1930s, Scott, along with the other remaining original members and their bandmates, travelled all over the world spreading the group's unique brand of soulful gospel music and good times. Although the band has been continuously active for over sixty years, they only recently burst on to the popular music scene, winning four consecutive Grammys for the last four years, recording with such diverse acts as Ben Harper, Lou Reed, and Ibrahim Ferrer and touring with Peter Gabriel and Tom Petty. Just last month the band won their fourth Grammy award, and performed on both the Grammy Awards telecast and the Tonight Show.
While Scott had retired from the rigors of touring in 2004, his voice was still strong and he was in fine form while singing lead on several key tracks for the band's new album ATOM BOMB. It was his last testament in a career that spanned six and a half decades.
BBC Radio's Asian Network recently dedicated a weekend entirely to a celebration of the extraordinary sound of qawwali music. You can listen again on line to this series of programmes celebrating this music's ancient mystic Sufi roots and its adaptation into modern day dance sounds. The most famous exponant of all was Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan who recorded many albums for Real World and worked extensively with Michael Brook and Peter Gabriel. In his footsteps come the young rising stars Rizwan-Muazzam.
Iarla O'Lionaird takes the beauty of traditional sean-nos (old style) singing into a whole new area of experimentation and innovation with his breath-takingly beautiful new solo album 'Invisible Fields'.
At times closer to Iceland's Sigur Ros than an Irish pub session, the album works on many levels - from pure, emotionally highly-charged, unaccompanied performances to blissed-out ambient electronica and swirling guitar loops.
The album is due for release on Real World in June but in advance of this you can hear Iarla interviewed by Fiona Talkington for BBC Radio's Late Junction and in performance from the University of Limmerick's World Music Centre.
Late Junction - BBC Radio 3 (90-93FM)- Thursday 17 March- 22.15 to midnight.
Multi-Grammy winning gospel group The Blind Boys of Alabama continue to master the art of genre shape-shifting on their forthcoming record, Atom Bomb,by unearthing a new cluster of pop tunes and traditional inspirational cuts and turning them inside out.
One dramatic step is the groups first ever foray into hip-hop with the track Demons, featuring an original rap by The Gift of Gab from Blackalicious whose own music is rooted in spirituality. The Blind Boys wanted to prove that spirituality transcends genre and with The Gift of Gabs passionately delivered rhyme riding atop the group's smooth harmonies, the blend is irresistible. Demons originally appeared on Fatboy Slims 2000 CD Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars, and was co-written by Slim and Macy Gray.
The Blind Boys bluesy remake of traditional tune Faith & Grace features the gritty guitar accompaniment of David Hidalgo from Los Lobos and also continues the burgeoning relationship between the group and Hollywood. The song will be featured on the soundtrack for the HBO movie, Lakawanna Blues, a film co-executive produced by Oscar winner Halle Berry. Youll also hear a song from their Spirit of the Century album on an upcoming episode of HBOs Deadwood. The Blind Boys songs have already been used on
ABCs hit tv series, Lost, HBOs The Wire, and Disneys animated feature film Brother Bear and they delivered an on-camera performance for the Paramount film The Fighting Temptations.
Another standout is Moses featuring the legendary Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica. A song from the deep folk spiritual tradition popular during The Blind Boys youth, it finds them coming full circle and honoring their roots with one of their most raw and intimate performances yet.
After performing together for over 60 years, there aren't many gigs The Blind Boys of Alabama haven't played, but these soulful septuagenarians - fresh off a fourth consecutive Grammy win and Grammy telecast performance with Kanye West and John Legend - will make their South by Southwest debut this year, with a March 18 performance at the Austin Music Hall. With Robert Randolph, Mavis Staples and Amos Lee joining the bill, this promises to be the roots music event of SXSW '05.
The Blind Boys will also preview their March 18 SXSW showcase with a 1:30PM in-store performance that same day at Austin's Waterloo Records.
Following their SXSW appearance The Blind Boys will also make stops in Boston (3/26) and Ann Arbor (4/4 & 4/5) along with several dates with the legendary Charlie Musselwhite - who is also featured on their forthcoming album - in Philadelphia (3/29), New York (3/31), Ridgefield, CT (4/1), and Washington, DC (4/2)
You can hear a special preview of a track from the forthcoming Real World Afro Celt Sound System album on A day of World Music on Radio 3. Andrew McGregor hosts a virtual roundtable with Ian Anderson and Ben Mandelson, following the story of the genre latterly known as World Music - from a pub gathering in 1987 to Radio 3's own Awards for World Music. Meanwhile features through the day include the story of Malian bluesman Ali Farka Toure, a beginners guide to Indian classical concerts, and Lucy Duran following the making of a world music track by the Afro Celts. You can also catch an interview with Peter Gabriel and founder of WOMAD Thomas Brooman. This musical feast runs from 1pm to 6pm followed by the Radio 3 Awards for World Music Pollwinners Concert.
Is there no stopping them? The wonderful Blind Boys of Alabama have just picked up their forth Grammy in as many years for their collaborative album with Ben Harper 'There Will Be A Light'! Their win was in the catagory of Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album.
Coming up in March will be the release of a DVD of Ben and the Boys performing at the Apollo Theatre. Both album and DVD are available on Virgin Records.
Now released is a special version of 'Diam' by Daby Touré featuring two new songs and an enhanced track with his video for 'Dendecouba'. Daby will be touring Fnac stores in France to promote the new release, where his reputation just keeping growing. Watch out for touring dates in the UK in May.
It is with enormous sadness that we announce the death of Martyn Bennett after a long struggle against cancer. Martyn died in Edinburgh on Sunday 30 January. He has left behind an extraordinary and seminal body of work - influential recordings and the memory outstanding live performances. His last album 'Grit' is an image of a struggle and endurance - both of the singers featured and of Martyn himself.
"On various levels this is an extraordinary album. The charismatic fiddler/bagpiper/dance innovator has endured an horrendous couple of years battling with cancer, and Grit - born of pain, passion, emotion and a very real sense of roots - is the immense response. Paradoxically it's tender yet explosive; ancient and futuristic; beautiful yet violent; scarred yet triumphant; quietly reflective yet full-on dance.... Remarkable stuff." ( fRoots Magazine)
Anyone wishing to pass on their condolences to Martyn's loved ones can do so by mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pass them on.