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A surprising number of blind African American singers came from the gospel tradition to influence not just sacred music, but blues, bluegrass, and popular music up to and beyond rock and roll. In addition to the Blind Boys and Ray Charles, lesser-known performers like Flora Molton—who survived by singing on the streets of Washington DC and became an anti-war activist–and Reverend Gary Davis whose “holy blues” influenced Ry Cooder and Bob Dylan made their contributions to American music. While their fans saw them as mystical, larger-than-life figures, these performers spent much of their energy just trying to survive in a sighted world.

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Mike McGonigal’s Crash Course On Sanctified Blues & Gospel

Mike McGonigal writes for the cheerfully irreverent Vice media empire, and in this article turns the brand’s characteristic disdain against German filmmaker Wim Wenders (Wings Of Desire) and his depiction of the intersection of religion and the blues. Wenders produced a short film for a Martin Scorsese’s PBS series “The Blues,” and in it portrays blues audiences reacting in sheer horror to Blind Willie Johnson playing a spiritual. McGonigal bluntly rejects this revisionist history and responds: “…the patrons of a juke joint… May 7, 2013

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Blind Joe Taggart and the Gospel Industry

This fascinating article (by Goldminemag.com’s Mike Greenblatt) on a rare Blind Joe Taggart gospel record probes the use of “blind” in promoting gospel music in the 1920s. Taggart’s wildly rare “14th Street Blues” recording was released under the name Blind Percy And His Blind Band. The unmistakable vocals of the blues icon raises the question of not only why Taggart took on a pseudonym (to avoid religious condemnation for making the devil’s music?) and if indeed the band accompanying him was blind. The… April 29, 2013

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Neurologists Examine Perfect Pitch Among Blind Musicians

Doctors from the Neurology department of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center explore the the phenomenon of perfect pitch in blind musicians in this article from NeuroReport Magazine . Turns out, the perception that blind musicians have some kind of supernatural power explored in Heavenly Sight is backed up by cold hard science! 57% of the blind musicians studied had perfect pitch, which is staggering compared with only 20% of all musicians.

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