A group of blind black boys originally came together as the Happyland Singers for some 10 years, and then for almost 60 further years became The Bind Boys of Alabama and have been continuously singing spiritual and gospel music ever since. Over the years society has changed from the days of segregated audiences within the USA to where it now embraces everyone, and all over the world. The Blind Boys of Alabama played a number of times in New Orleans but never recorded there until production of this CD in support of hurricane victims.
CD tracks feature a wide repertoire with traditional numbers plus songs associated with famous singers including Mahalia Jackson and Jim Reeves, but with unmistakeable gospel harmony and influences of rhythm & blues - and of course being in New Orleans - of jazz. My favourite tracks include `Across the Bridge', `Down by the Riverside' and `Uncloudy Day' where these are supported by The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Other tracks are backed by a trio of piano, bass and drums alternating with guest Allen Toussaint on piano, or The Hot 8 Brass Band with especially Carl LeBlanc on banjo and Bennie Pete on tuba. From the opening track `Free at Last' using Dr. Martin Luther King's famous speech, to the final number `I'll Fly away' as a form of funeral jazz with The Hot 8 this is a great historical CD. It is testament to the tradition of black music inspired by religion. However advancing years mark performances somewhat rough and rustic leading to 4-star rather than 5-star rating.