Stories » Oklahoma School for the Blind students experience The Blind Boys of Alabama / NONDOC

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Oklahoma School for the Blind students experience The Blind Boys of Alabama / NONDOC

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In my business, sometimes you walk down the street, get offered a show ticket and end up observing music students from the Oklahoma School of the Blind as they experience phenomenal gospel music from the Blind Boys of Alabama. At least that's what happens if you are lucky.

Wednesday evening, I received a last-minute ticket to the Tower Theatre for the performances of Irma Thomas and the Blind Boys of Alabama. While I had heard of Irma Thomas - the Soul Queen of New Orleans - I was more familiar with the Blind Boys, a gospel group founded in 1939 by men with visual impairments. As I walked through the parking lot, I noticed a school bus parked in the back. I wondered to myself which school had loaded up students for the concert, but when I read the name on the side, everything started to click: Oklahoma School for the Blind.

As expected, the night's performers sounded incredible. I'm not a music writer, and if I have to explain the appeal of soul-soothing gospel songs then we probably better part ways right here. But the Blind Boys of Alabama inspired Tower Theatre patrons in a manner that the last fellas I saw on that stage could only dream of. When the music stopped, I scanned the crowd for students of the Oklahoma School for the Blind, an important state institution in Muskogee that Helen Keller visited in 1915. They were grouped in the middle of the theater, their tickets provided - I later learned - by a donor to the school. "They were amazing. Really outstanding," 10th grader Dee William said of the Blind Boys of Alabama. "They are great singers. I can tell they have an original voice. There's no auto-tune there."