Photo Credit: Michael Weintraub
Gospel singer and Alabama Blind Boys member Paul Beasley has passed away. The legendary tenor, who spent years with Gospel Keynotes and Mighty Clouds of Joy before losing his sight and joining the Blind Boys in 2013, died on March 13. He was 78 years old.
Beasley was born on December 11, 1944, in DeRidder, Louisiana, and was known to fans of the gospel quartet for the songs “Jesus You’ve Been Good To Me” with the keynotes and “Walk Around Heaven,” which was performed with the Mighty Clouds: both pieces employed the artist’s unique falsetto.
When asked how he developed his falsetto voice, Beasley replied: “It just came naturally. When I was about 12 or 13 years old, my sister and I used to sit and see who could get the highest.”
Later, the musician lent his voice to the Blind Boys unit, starting with the album. i will find a way, released in 2013 and produced by Justin Vernon (Bon Iver). Beasley later embraced the song “There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God Is Seated At The Conference Table)” from that album, and it became a sensational hit in Blind Boys live performances for the 10 years that followed. at launch.
Beasley sang on three other Blind Boys albums, plus one that has yet to be released. He was part of the group while they earned multiple Grammy nominations and toured the world.
In a press release announcing Beasley’s passing, his Blind Boys of Alabama bandmates Ricky McKinnie and Jimmy Carter, Joey Williams, Rev. Julius Love and Sterling Glass recalled their friend and collaborator: “In life, There are some things that only come once, and the legacy and voice of Paul Beasley is one of those things. Thank God for him.
They concluded their statement by adding: “It was often imitated but never duplicated. The Blind Boys have been Paul’s friends and soul mates for many years. The memories we share are second to none. Our deepest condolences to all his family and friends. God bless you all.”
A service honoring Beasley’s life will be held in his hometown of DeRidder, Louisiana on Saturday, March 25.
Check out a 2016 clip of Beasley performing “There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God Is Seated At The Conference Table)” alongside the Blind Boys of Alabama below.