Paul Beasley, tenor of the Blind Boys of Alabama, died last Monday (13) at the age of 78. The falsetto had joined the famous gospel collective in 2013.
The group’s Ricky McKinnie, Jimmy Carter, Joey Williams, Rev. Julius Love and Sterling Glass said in a statement: “There are some things in life that come only once and the legacy and voice of Paul Beasley is one of those things. Thank god for him. He was often imitated but never copied.
“The Blind Boys have been Paul’s friends and soul mates for many years. The memories we shared are second to none. Our deepest sympathy goes out to all his family and friends. God bless you all.”
Born on December 11, 1944 in DeRidder, Louisiana, Beasley became a member of the Gospel Keynotes and the Mighty Clouds of Joy before losing his sight and joining the Blind Boys, whose Alabama origins date back to 1939. Co-founder Clarence Fountain died at 88 in 2018. When asked about his falsetto style, Beasley said, “It just came naturally. When I was about 12 or 13, me and my sister used to sit down and see who got the highest.”
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His album debut with them came in 2013 I will find a way, for which Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon brought the group to his Wisconsin studio to produce the set. In his review American songwriter‘s Lee Zimmerman highlighted “the enduring gospel standard ‘Take Me to the Water,’ in which Paul Beasley, the sextet’s newest member, contributes his soaring and stately falsetto.”
I will find a way was the first of four Blind Boys albums to which Beasley contributed; He also featured on the 2021 single version of “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” with Bela Fleck. During his time with the group, Beasley and the Blind Boys received four Grammy nominations, including Best American Roots Performance for “Let My Mother Live” by the Almost home Album, at the 60th annual ceremony in 2018. A memorial service will be held for Beasley on March 25 in DeRidder.
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