Five Blind Boys Of Mississippi

The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi are one of the most famous singing groups in pop music history. Their dazzling harmonies and the lead vocals of Archie Brownlee influenced many gospel groups as well as secular artists like Ray Charles. Their roots date back to the 1930s when Lloyd Woodard, Lloyd Brownlee, Lawrence Abrams and Archie Brownlee formed a quartet. They were students at Piney Woods School in Jackson, Mississippi. They were known as The Cotton Blossom Singers and performed both secular and spiritual music. They sang on school grounds in 1936 and were then recorded by Alan Lomax for Library of Congress in 1937. They decided to pursue professional singing after graduation and performed for a while under dual identities: The Cotton Blossom Singers performing popular songs and The Jackson Harmoneers performing gospel. When Melvin Henderson joined, they became a quintet. They were renamed The Five Blind Boys when Henderson was replaced by Percell Perkins in the mid-’40s. Perkins, who was also their manager, wasn’t blind. After meeting Leon Rene, the label owner in Cleveland, they made their Excelsior recording debut in 1946. They recorded for Coleman in 1948 when Joseph Ford was succeeded by J.T. Clinkscales. The Five Blind Boys were then made famous by Don Robey’s Peacock label, in 1950. The Top Ten R single “Our Father” was the number one hit.

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