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Over the seventy years since the Blind Boys of Alabama formed at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind, the gospel group has toured consistently, released a few dozen albums and won five Grammys. Jimmy Carter is the sole surviving original member, but the group has forged on with new musicians and singers, who, along with Carter, are some of the best harmonizers in gospel. The Boys, who have collaborated with the likes of Mavis Staples, Stevie Wonder and Prince, certainly know their way around gospel hymns, but they dabble in secular tunes, too. Don’t miss their rousing take on Tom Waits’s “Way Down in the Hole,” which was used as the opening theme for the HBO show The Wire.
— Jon Solomon