Ben Harper Produced Blind Boys Of Alabama Album Due Aug. 24

In January, legendary gospel vocal group the Blind Boys of Alabama approached roots rocker Ben Harper and asked him to produce their new album.

At first he passed. “I just couldn’t commit that much time to other people’s music, because I’m making music at such a rapid pace in the studio right now doing my own thing,” Harper says. “They came back and asked about a couple songs. It was such a privilege to be asked and I had to look at my life and say, ‘There should not be anything keeping me from working with these guys.’ They’re one of the musical wonders of the world. They’re like Niagara Falls or the Grand Canyon.”

So, in late January, the Blind Boys, Harper and members of his band the Innocent Criminals moved into Studio B at Los Angeles’ Capitol Studios for five days to record a couple of songs. The early sessions netted five tracks, including the upbeat “Church House Steps,” the a cappella “Mother Pray” and the moving spiritual “There Will Be a Light.”

Harper found himself halfway through a dream project and decided to continue, culling songs from his catalog of unrecorded material. The crew reconvened in mid-March and finished the balance of the album in another five days. There Will Be a Light, an eleven-song collection by Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama is tentatively scheduled to be released on August 24th. Other song titles include “Where Could I Go?,” “Take My Hand” and a stunning cover of Jeff Buckley’s “Satisfied Mind” sung by Harper and Blind Boy Jimmy Carter.

The three-time Grammy-winning Blind Boys have high hopes for the project. “I think this is going to be a wonderful album,” George Scott says. “To tell you the truth, I believe they’re going to be callin’ us to get another Grammy.”

Adds Clarence Fountain, “Working with Ben was just as sweet as honey in a rock.”

Harper is even more effusive about his new recording mates. “I was extremely intimidated, because of the legend and because of my heightened level of reverence for the men and the music they’ve created,” he says. “The challenge of working with these guys is to not get goose bumps. I’m spending half my days in shivers. It’s crazy.”


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