In the seven decades since the Blind Boys of Alabama first began singing together, America has witnessed a World War, the civil rights movement, and the Summer of Love; the moon landing, Vietnam, and the fall of the Berlin Wall; JFK, MLK, and Malcolm X; the invention of the jukebox, the atomic bomb, and the internet. Through it all, the Blind Boys’ music has not only endured, but thrived, helping both to distinguish the sound of the American south and to push it forward through the 20th century and well on into the 21st. Consisting of Jimmy “Jimster” Carter, Ricky McKinnie, Paul Beasley, Rev. Julius Love, newest addition Sterling Glass, and led by Music Director and lead guitarist Joey Williams, the group has the rare distinction of being recognized around the world as both living legends and modern-day innovators. They are not just gospel singers borrowing from old traditions; the group helped to define those traditions in the 20th century and almost single-handedly created a new gospel sound for the 21st. Since the original members first sang together as kids at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in the late 1930s (including Jimmy Carter, who leads the group today), the band has persevered through seven decades to become one of the most recognized and decorated roots music groups in the world.
The blues is music for all time—past, present, and future—and few artists simultaneously exemplify those multiple temporal moments of the genre like North Mississippi’s Cedric Burnside. The Mississippi Hill Country blues guitarist and singer/songwriter contains within him the legacy and future of the region’s prescient sound stories. At once African and American and southern and Mississippian, these stories tell about love, hurt, connection, and redemption in the South. His newest contribution to this tradition is I Be Trying, a 13-track album treatise on life’s challenges, pleasures, and beauty. “Life can go any kind of way,” Burnside says. With almost 30 years of performing and living blues in him, he would know.
A singer’s talent is complete when they can bring a crowded dive bar to a collective hush and also get one of the biggest audiences on the planet to a collective standing ovation. Stephanie Anne Johnson is that special singer who can don a cowboy hat and sing over a slide as old timers weep. And they have wowed judges on the immensely popular NBC TV series, The Voice, showcasing their gifts.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that Johnson is so affecting. Their mantra, after all, is “Find your joy and go there.” Their prowess exudes whether they are singing the Black national anthem – “Lift Every Voice And Sing” – to a packed auditorium or whether they’re cooing acoustic lullabies to Saturday night tavern regulars. Their music, which is rooted in all that’s American, expresses the pain of the past, the roots of the down home and the hope that hard work will lead to proper reward.
Their latest album ‘Jewels’ was released on April 7th, 2023. Produced and engineered by Jeff Fielder.
Stephanie Anne Johnson has opened for acts that include political figure Bernie Sanders, and artists such as Mavis Staples, Chaka Khan, Ani DiFranco, Joseph, Cedric Burnside, and Black Joe Lewis.
Alessandra Rose is a recording artist and live performer from the Pacific Northwest. She recently recorded her newest, unreleased album RODEOMOTHH in Nashville with Grammy award winning producer Mitch Dane. Alessandra may perform solo with a guitar or sitting at the keys, and other times with a full band rocking alongside. Her live shows encapsulate her determination to be her true self without reservation.
Mikey the Rad Scientist brings science and nature to life with his creative, interactive and engaging music. From the adventures of a water molecule named Carlos, to a musical journey to the center of the earth; his music strikes a chord with children and parents alike. Mikey believes we can all have a great time dancing and singing while learning about the wonders of the natural world.
Mikey has been teaching and singing nature songs for over ten years covering concepts such as symbiosis, the water cycle, plant and animal biology, astronomy and math. His interactive music will have kids moving, singing along and learning. His performances and programs make science fun by using stories, songs, props and movement to reinforce student’s learning.