Our guest today on Blind Abilities is Ricky McKinnie. Ricky is a longtime member of the iconic gospel singing group, The Blind Boys of Alabama. Winners of five Grammy awards and the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award. They have also been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and performed at the White House for three different presidents
The Blind Boys of Alabama have the rare distinction of being recognized around the world as both living legends and modern-day innovators.
. Since the original members first sang together as kids at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in the late 1930s, the band has persevered through seven decades to become one of the most recognized and decorated roots music groups in the world.
the blind boys have gained a stellar reputation with their professional careers beginning with their first single released in 1944, followed by many more over the decades. They have recorded and released 25 albums, some featuring collaborations with other well-known artists, including Ben Harper, Robert Randolph, Aaron Neville, Mavis Staples, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Allen Toussaint, and Willie Nelson.
. In 2017, the group released a milestone album entitled almost home. This record consists of a series of songs submitted by songwriters in response to a solicitation by the band and its management team for songs which celebrate the epic story of the lives and history of the blind boys of Alabama, beginning with their childhood and moving forward to their present professional careers.
Their most recent album, released in 2021 , entitled “work to do,”, resulted from a collaboration between the blind boys and Mark Cohn, established singer, piano player and songwriter famous for his popular Composition “Walking in Memphis“.
Our guest, Ricky McKinney, is a productive artist in his own right, leading his band called, “the Ricky McKinnie singers,“ based in Atlanta, Georgia, in the US. Ricky has also sung and played drums with various gospel groups, , bands, and choirs, initially having joined the blind boys of Alabama as their Business Manager in 1997, then as their drummer and eventually as one of the feature singers in 2000. Ricky shares his account of how he became blind, as well as his professional career in and outside the blind boys, along with his advice to transition-aged youth as they move from high school to college or the workplace.. Join Jeff and Pete for this fascinating and in-depth interview with this key member of the iconic gospel group.
Of course, Blind Abilities blends in several music excerpts from tunes performed both in the recording studio and live by the band over the decades. Following is a list of song titles from which those excerpts were drawn, along with the times at which they appear in the podcast:
– 00:00, Introduction: I Can See”
– 9:20, “Look Where He Brought Me From”
– 14:05, collaboration with Bela Fleck, Grammy Award nominated single: “I Wish I Could Know What It’s Like To Be Free”
– 17:17, “Amazing Grace”
– 20:35, “Singing Brings Us Closer”
– 21:58, collaboration with African pop duo, Amadou & Marial, “Netola”
– 22:50, collaboration with Mark Cohn, “Work To Do”
– 27:28, closing: “Go Tell It On The Mountain:
The Blind Boys will be performing at the closing ceremony for The World Games on Sunday, July 17, 2022 in Birmingham, Alabama. Be sure to check them out there, , or during their current tour in the U. S.
This information, along with their discography and other interesting facts can be found on the group’s web site:
And check out Ricky’s web site:
Ricky wants to leave us all with these parting words of wisdom: “Don’t miss it when The Boys Are Back In Town!”
Thanks for listening!
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