The renowned music group The Blind Boys of Alabama will open the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival’s 2012 concert season with a performance on Friday, July 20, at 8 p.m.
It’s a blues doubleheader that evening on the Orkney Springs stage. Deanna Bogart will open.
The show will mark a return engagement for the gospel music legends on the Orkney Springs Stage. The Blind Boys first brought their signature blend of spiritual and contemporary music to the Festival in 2007.
Acclaimed worldwide as gospel music legends, the Blind Boys have performed for two presidents in the White House, and their many honors include five Grammy Awards. They have also been celebrated by The Grammys and The National Endowment for the Arts with Lifetime Achievement Awards and inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
The Blind Boys have earned praise from noted songwriters such as Curtis Mayfield, Ben Harper, Eric Clapton, Prince and Tom Waits. Their performances have been shared by millions on “The Tonight Show,” “Late Night with David Letterman,” the Grammy Awards telecast, “60 Minutes,” and their own PBS holiday special. The Blind Boys have performed internationally, bringing their roof-raising live shows to audiences of all cultures.
The Blind Boys formed at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in 1939. For the next 40 years, the group worked almost exclusively on the black gospel circuit, playing in churches, auditoriums and even stadiums across the country.
Their recorded output dates back to 1948 and their hit “I Can See Everybody’s Mother But Mine” on the Veejay Label. The work is widely recognized as being influential for many gospel, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll artists.
In the 1960s, the Blind Boys joined the Civil Rights Movement, performing at benefits for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In 1983, their career reached a turning point with their crucial role in the smash hit and Obie Award winning play “The Gospel at Colonus,” which brought the Blind Boys’ timeless sound to an enthusiastic new audience.
The Blind Boys have appeared on recordings with Bonnie Raitt, Randy Travis, k.d. lang, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Charlie Musselwhite, Susan Tedeschi, Solomon Burke, Marty Stuart, Asleep at the Wheel and many others. Along the way, they have profoundly influenced an entire generation of gospel, soul, R&B and rock musicians.
The Blind Boys again broke new ground with their latest album, the 2011 release of “Take The High Road,” their first work inspired by the country music genre. The landmark recording draws from modern and traditional country to enrich the group’s gospel-rooted sound with fresh and illuminating insight.
“All my life, I’ve loved country music,” says lead vocalist and founding member, Jimmy Carter. “I was raised up around it. Back in the 1940s, I remember listening to Hank Williams and so many others. Their voices were great. The writers were great. And every song had a meaning. I still have loads of country music in my home and I play it all the time.”
Along with Carter, the Blind Boys include vocalists Bishop Billy Bowers and Ben Moore, Ricky McKinnie on drums, lead guitarist Joey Williams, Tracy Pierce on bass and Peter Levin on keyboards.
Deanna Bogart, the opener, is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist and multifaceted musician whose fans value the diversity of her genre free zone. As a bandleader/singer/songwriter/producer/pianist/sax player, Ms. Bogart combines the best of boogie-woogie, contemporary blues, country and jazz into a splendid blend she calls “blusion.”
Her fusion of blusion – spontaneous, sophisticated fearless and fun – has garnered her three consecutuve Blues Music Awards’ Horn Instrumentalist of the Year for 2008, 2009 and 2010. She has won, at last count, more than 20 Wammies, the music awards for the hotly contested Washington, D.C. region.
Deanna Bogart plays with “luster, sophistication and soul,” according to the Washington Post. She was the Blues Music Association’s Horn Instrumentalist of the Year three years in a row. Her talents on the piano are remarkable, too. “Her versatility is truly astounding,” AllMusic said.
Reserved pavilion seating for the show is $35 and general admission lawn seating is $30. The show begins at 8 p.m. and the gates open at 6 p.m.
The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival’s 2012 summer season Gold level sponsor is Shenandoah Memorial Hospital-Valley Health. The Silver level sponsor is ShelRand Enterprises. The Bronze level sponsors are City National Bank, Downtown Harrisonburg Renaissance, Graves-Light Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, IRIS Partners LLP, Loudoun Mutual Insurance Company, Mountain Valley Management Inc.-Steve Stein, Rodney Shepherd-ING Financial Services, Shentel, and Shenandoah Valley Westminster Canterbury.
In addition to the Holiday Inn Express, the official hotel of the 2012 Music Festival, the Festival’s 2012 Official Caterer is Shaffer’s Barbecue and Catering, and the Ticket Sponsor is Fort Valley Nursery.
The 2012 Media Partners are the Northern Virginia Daily/nvdaily.com, The Free Press, WUSQ 102.5 FM, WSIG 96.9 FM, WMXH 105.7 FM/WRAA 1330 AM, WMRA 90.7 FM/WEMC 91.7 FM, SIMPLY LOCAL on Shentel Cable, WZRV 95.3 FM/WFTR 1450 AM and WBTX 1470 AM.