Heavenly Sight: Black Gospel's Blind Singers

Heavenly Sight: Black Gospel's Blind Singers

Sun, 02/24/2013 - 9:00pm

Pictured: Jimmy Carter

Credit: PRI

Blind Willie Johnson, Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Willie McTell, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Flora Molton — the African American gospel tradition has been a haven for the blind.

Heavenly Sight: Black Gospel’s Blind Singers, airing Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 9 p.m. on AM 1370/FM-HD 91.5-2, is an hour-long radio music documentary that tells the story of singers who overcame disability and prejudice to chart the course of American music from sacred songs all the way to rock.

Our audio documentary will explore blues and gospel music – from church hymns and the oral tradition through the secular soul of Ray Charles up until Blind Willie Johnson’s Dark was the Night went into space with Voyager to bring holy blues to the galaxy. We’ll also explore the unique perspective of the blind musician – from music lessons at vocational institutions; singing (and being robbed) on street corners; navigating the music industry and the larger world; and how their world view informs their feeling and performance of their music.

Heavenly Sight hinges on new interviews with musicians both blind (Jimmy Carter of The Blind Boys of Alabama, Larcene Turk, Valerie Capers, Henry Butler),  and sighted (Bernice Johnson Reagon, Lee Breur, David Bromberg) and, of course, the music. Our audio documentary will appeal to anyone interested in blues, jazz, the history of American music, or hearing the world from a different point of view.