Buies Creek—Wearing black sun glasses and bright orange suits, the incomparable gospel music of The Blind Boys of Alabama wowed audiences at Campbell University on Tuesday, Sept. 30. Performing with the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band of New Orleans, the highly charged talent of both groups virtually shook the foundations of stately Turner Auditorium.
“These were definitely professional musicians,” said piano professor Dr. Richard McKee of Campbell’s Fine Arts Division. “Their performances were tight and extremely focused. It’s exactly the kind of musicianship I want my students to see.”
Even though three of their performers had to be led onstage, the Blind Boys’musical instincts were unexcelled. The group performed an entire spectrum of foot-tapping spirituals from the traditional “I’ll Fly Away” to a rousing contemporary rendition of “Amazing Grace.” The Blind Boys released the first of four consecutive Grammy-winning recordings in 2001 and their version of “I Shall Not Walk Alone” was featured in an episode of the ABC drama “Lost.” One of their latest albums, “Down in New Orleans,” was recorded with The Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Preceding The Blind Boys and joining them on several numbers was The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The band carries on an unsurpassed musical tradition that began in New Orleans over 60 years ago. Many of the band’s musicians are direct descendants of original band members who, together with Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton and other greats, created New Orleans jazz. The band performed some of the genre’s greatest classics, including the subtle and smooth “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” and a rollicking version of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
The Blind Boys of Alabama and The Preservation Hall Jazz Band are the first in a program of cultural and entertainment performances that are part of Campbell University’s Performing Arts Series. Upcoming concerts include world-renowned pianist Emile Pandolfi in a special Christmas Concert on Dec. 4, and international vocal artist, pastor and motivational speaker Wintley Phipps on March 12. Phipps has performed with the Billy Graham Crusades and The Gaithers gospel group.
“The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Blind Boys of Alabama concert was a wonderful beginning for Campbell University’s 2008-09 Performing Artists Series,” said Dr. John Roberson, vice president for Marketing and Planning. “Their engaging stage presence and never-ending energy drew the audience into the show. It was wonderful to see hundreds of students and community members tapping toes, clapping hands and swaying with the rhythm.”
For more information on the Campbell University Performing Arts Series, contact Kathy Crenshaw at 910-893-4700 or email her at [email protected] .edu. All concerts feature a pre-show buffet in Marshbanks Dining Hall at a charge of $15 per person. Reserverations are required and limited to the first 100 guests only.