Published on November 3, 2011 by Jaime Davidson  

The Leslie Stephen Wright Fine Arts Center at Samford University is proud to welcome the legendary Blind Boys of Alabama with special guests Sara and Sean Watkins, formerly of Nickel Creek, Friday, Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. The concert is the latest in the new Wright Center Presents series.

Winners of six Grammy awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award, and with a career spanning over 70 years, The Blind Boys of Alabama are recognized worldwide as living legends of gospel music.  With their newest album, Take the High Road, the Blind Boys draw from modern and traditional country to enrich the group’s gospel-rooted sound with fresh and illuminating insight.

The Blind Boys of Alabama formed at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in 1939. The group toiled for nearly 40 years almost exclusively on the black gospel circuit, playing in churches, auditoriums and even stadiums across the country.  In 1983, their career reached a turning point with their crucial role in the smash hit and Obie Award-winning play “The Gospel at Colonus,” which brought the Blind Boys timeless sound to an enthusiastic new audience. In the 1990's they received two Grammy nominations and performed at the White House. In recent years the Blind Boys were awarded five Grammy Awards and were inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2010. The Blind Boys of Alabama have profoundly influenced an entire generation (or two) of gospel, soul, R&B and rock musicians and are still blazing trails after all these years.

Siblings Sara and Sean Watkins have grown up in the music business. Children of professional bluegrass musicians, Sara and Sean formed two-thirds of the group Nickel Creek when they were still teenagers. That band’s blend of bluegrass with country, pop, folk and gospel sounds catapulted them to the top of the industry. With that group on hiatus, Sara has released a genre-bending release of her own to critical acclaim. Her virtuosity on fiddle and signature vocal sound has long been in demand, landing her spots playing with Bela Fleck, the Chieftains, Ben Lee, Dan Wilson, Richard Thompson and Ray La Montagne among others. Together with her guitar playing brother, the duo have been delighting audiences the world over.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.