3 Questions With Blind Boys of Alabama Vocalist Ricky McKinnie

The Blind Boys of Alabama and Al Green perform at 8 p.m., Friday at Chastain Park Amphitheatre.

Soul and Gospel music is a winning combination. Concert-goers are going to be moving, groovin’ and probably shouting when it’s all said and done tonight at in Buckhead.

The Blind Boys of Alabama and Al Green perform at 8 p.m., Friday.

“It’s going to be a foot-clapping, hand-clapping, sing-along. We’re going to lift it up,” said Ricky McKinnie. The vocalist and drummer with the Blind Boys of Alabama lives in metro Atlanta.

The multi-Grammy Award-winning gospel group has a love for many different music genres, especially county.

On the album, “Take the High Road,” the Blind Boys collaborated with Vince Gill, Willie Nelson, the Oak Ridge Boys, Hank Williams Jr. among others. 

The 411 on The Blind Boys of Alabama: The group was started in 1939 at the Alabama Institute for the Blind. Singer Jimmy Carter is the only regularly performing original member. Lead singer Billy Bowers joined the group in 1968. Ricky McKinnie joined Blind Boys in 1990.

Here are three questions with McKinnie.

Q:  What’s the camaraderie like with the music group members?

A:  We get along well. Everybody has their own opinion. Like Jimmy always wanted to do a country music record. When our producer came to us with the theme of  “House of the Rising Sun” with “Amazing Grace Words,” at first we disagreed, but that went on to be one of the biggest hits we ever had and won us our first Grammy.

Q:  You probably draw a pretty diverse audience?

A: We do. We have found that if you sing from the heart it touches the heart. We go to the program not to preach to people but to sing to people. But we do know that the Bible says that if I be lifted up, I draw all men.

Q: Is there a little known secret about the Blind Boys that you can share?

A: A lot of people don’t know our motto is, ‘We’re not blind, we just can’t see,’ which means that we might have lost our sight but not our direction. We let people know that a disability doesn’t have to be a handicap. A disability is just a limitation and we all have limitations.


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