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.
Hotel Rwanda, for which the Afro Celts have contributed to an outstanding soundtrack has been nominated for three oscars. Don Cheadle is up for Best Actor, Sophie Okonedo as Best Supporting Actress and Keir Pearson and Terry George for Best Original Screenplay.
Saturday night saw a packed Union Chapel in Islington for an inspiring performance of "I Could Read The Sky' with readings by Timothy O'Grady and music from Iarla O'Lionaird,Karan Casey, Martin O'Connor, Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill. (pictured at the event below)
You can still catch a performance in Glasgow, Gateshead. Southport and Stamford and at an extra date -the 30th January at the Irish Centre at Blacks Road in Hammersmith London (tel 0208 563 8232).