Spirit of the Century: Our Own Story

Narrated by:
Phil Morris

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
March 2024
7 hours 45 minutes
An insider history of the Blind Boys of Alabama, the longest running group in American music, and the untold story of their world, written with band members and key musical colleagues.

The Blind Boys of Alabama are the quintessential Gospel vocal group, and the longest-running musical institution in America. Their story intersects with pivotal moments and issues in American history and is an ideal prism through which to trace music, culture, history, and race in America. Spirit of the Century invites readers to follow along the Blind Boys’ eight-decade journey together from a segregated trade school, through the rough and tumble indie record game and grinding tour schedule of the golden age of gospel, to starring in an iconic Broadway musical, performing at the White House for three presidents twice, collaborating with Tom Petty, Lou Reed, and Ben Harper, among others, singing the theme song for “The Wire,” and winning five Grammys.  More than just a story of the Blind Boys' illustrious career, Spirit of the Century also sheds new light on the larger world of African American gospel music, its origins, and the colorful characters at its center. 

Though there have been several iterations of the group over the decades, Spirit of the Century rounds up all surviving members of the group as contributors to the telling of their own story, and a result, the book offers a unique and intimate perspective on the group's enduring success. Current drummer and road manager Rickie McKinney has been with the group throughout its renaissance, while guitarist Joey Williams, the group’s sighted member, has been the eyes of the Blind Boys since 1992. Octogenarian Jimmy Lee Carter has a fascinating history, as a fellow student of the original but deceased Blind Boys Clarence Fountain, George Scott, Olice Thomas, Johnny Fields, J.T. Hutton, and Velma Traylor at the Talladega school. Carter is one of a few performers who have been in both the Blind Boys of Alabama and Mississippi. He fronts the Alabama group today as a classic quartet leader and fiery preacher. Along with extensive interviews of Fountain, these legendary musicians provide this book with the voice, firsthand perspective, and authenticity that bring their story the same inspirational power that you hear in their songs.

Thought-provoking, heartfelt, and deeply inspiring, Spirit of the Century is a fascinating and one-of-a-kind read that you won't be able to put down.

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