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Blind Boys come to Marion

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@chronicle-tribune.com

The Blind Boys of Alabama arrived to Indiana Wesleyan University’s Phillippe Performing Arts Center to a full house to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. two days before the holiday named for him and 50 years after his assassination.

The Blind Boys of Alabama are a gospel band that has been creating and performing music for 74 years. The Grammy Award-winning group was invited for the fifth annual MLK Living the Dream celebration by the Multicultural Enrichment and Employee Development office at IWU and eagerly accepted, according to IWU President Dr. David Wright.

Wright said The Blind Boys are “living legends” who are leaders both musically and spiritually that have used their talents to cross musical boundaries.

“One of God’s great gifts to us are leaders,” Wright said. “We currently live in a time when we need leaders who know the right thing to say at the right time, and leaders who have the knowledge to know when to not say anything at all.”

Jimmy Carter, a signer in The Blind Boys, said the singers got their start in June of 1944, shortly after meeting in the Alabama School for the Blind when they were young. Though the group has been together for more than 70 years, they’re still producing new music.

At IWU, they played tracks from their new album “Almost Home,” that tells the story of their beginnings in the music industry and experiences performing as an African American group during the Civil Rights Movement.

Diane McDaniel, vice president of the multicultural enrichment and employee development office, said the Living the Dream event is meant to not only celebrate the legacy of peace and cooperation Dr. King left, but to continue that legacy by creating a conversation for the community.

“My hope for the future is that we have open and honest communication,” McDaniel said. “That’s how we keep the dream alive with authentic conversations and understanding that there’s no topic too tough.”

She said Dr. King was “definitely a communicator” in that regard.

Amonte King is a local musician and student at Marion High School. He sat in the front row of the performing arts center anxiously awaiting to opportunity he’d witness the work of the musicians who heavily influenced his musical style.

“These men, they’re the people who shaped my musical flavor,” Amonte King said. “I learned how to sing by listening to them and people like them, so I’m excited to see what they do and how they do it.”

Amonte King said he was happy to see a so many for The Blind Boys performance.

“When legends come to Marion, you can’t miss the legends,” he said.