As you probably know, we’re in the midst of trying to raise money to help promote the Heavenly Sight hour-long public radio documentary and also establish a visually-impaired-friendly website. In the course of doing research for this blog it became very clear how incredibly lacking the web is in resources about blind gospel music.
Searching for information on the blind gospel tradition yields a great deal of scattered information, mostly dominated by the Blind Boys of Alabama—who are incredible. However, searching for something even as specific as “blind gospel music” yields disparate information and much of it again dominated by the Blind Boys of Alabama.
There were some interesting resources that I was able to discover including a neat interactive Gospel time-line from the University of Southern California website. Additionally, NPR has a page from 2004 that gives a quick overview of Gospel, but focuses prickly on the sighted Mahalia Jackson. The NPR page does lists several blind performers tunes as among the 25 most influential Gospel recordings, but not much more than that. Google reader has several books cataloged for online reading including the 1995 The golden age of gospel by Horace Clarence Boyer.
It became very clear as I was trying to find what others have to say on the web about the blind Gospel tradition that almost nobody has said anything about the blind Gospel tradition. Individual artists have information but there is no centralized location to get clear information that makes connections to the world we live in now. The lack of information and dialog is even more acute when considering female blind Gospel performers. What we’re trying to do with Heavenly Sight is something truly pioneering and is the result of over a year of research, original interviews and cataloging recordings. Gospel music and the initial success of its blind performers helped transform American music into a tradition with soul and that’s a story worth sharing. We’re excited to bring you the story.
Member of the Heavenly Sight Team