News

Blind Boys of Alabama to Perform as Part of Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

Willamette University and the Salem Multicultural Institute will host an exclusive Oregon performance by the Blind Boys of Alabama on Friday, Jan. 22, at 7:30 p.m. in Willamette's Smith Auditorium.

The Blind Boys are worldwide legends of gospel music who have been honored with five Grammy Awards and celebrated by the Grammys and the National Endowment for the Arts with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

The concert is the headline event for Willamette's two-week Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, hosted Jan. 18-28, which has a theme of "Remember. Reflect. Realize the dream." The celebration is one of Oregon's most extensive annual commemorations of King's legacy and reflects Willamette's motto, "Not unto ourselves alone are we born."

"The celebration puts both our mission and motto into action," said Gordy Toyama, director of multicultural affairs at Willamette. "We hope the event plays a part in encouraging our community and state to uphold the dignity and worth of all individuals."

The Blind Boys have earned praise for their interpretations of everything from traditional gospel favorites to contemporary spiritual material. They have brought gospel to the mainstream by embracing rock, reggae, blues, country and other popular genres while collaborating with artists like Bonnie Raitt, Randy Travis, Peter Gabriel and Ben Harper.

The Blind Boys are also featured in a new film, Soundtrack for a Revolution, which was shown in 2009 at the prestigious Cannes and Tribeca International film festivals. The film tells the story of the civil rights movement through its music, and includes new performances of the era's songs by today's top artists, including the Blind Boys, Joss Stone, Wyclef Jean, The Roots and John Legend.

Ticket Information

(UPDATE, 1/22 - Please note that this event is sold out and no tickets remain.)

Public tickets for the Blind Boys concert are $25 in advance and $27 at the door, with limited seating. They can be purchased through absolutelytix.com; at the Salem Multicultural Institute, (503) 581-2004; or through the Oregon African American Museum, (503) 540-4063.

Tickets for Willamette students, faculty and staff are available beginning Jan. 18 on the second floor of Putnam University Center. The first ticket is free and the second is $5, with a Willamette ID.

Proceeds will benefit the Salem Multicultural Institute's World Beat programs and the Oregon African American Museum. The concert also has been supported by a generous contribution from Salem Health.

Salem Multicultural Institute (SMI) is a volunteer-centered organization working to help Salem and Oregon become recognized for a commitment to cultural exchange and enrichment. SMI collaborates with other organizations to promote understanding through educational cultural programs.

The Oregon African American Museum (OAAM) is a statewide group of volunteers working to create a new museum that will focus on educating the public about Oregon's African American history. OAAM is collecting, preserving, interpreting and exhibiting material evidence of the African American experience. 

For more information on the concert, visit willamette.edu/go/mlk, or call the Willamette University Office of Multicultural Affairs at (503) 370-6265.

12-21-2009