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The Blind Boys of Alabama & Ruthie Foster To Be Featured in Smithsonian's Roots To Pop Series

By Stevie Connor.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History and the Americana Music Foundation have announced the fourth installment of its collaborative "Roots to Pop" series. The Blind Boys of Alabama and Ruthie Foster will be the featured artists for the latest edition of the educational music programming moderated by Krystal Klingenberg, Curator of Music, Division of Culture & the Arts at the NMAH.

Throughout the partnership, The AMF and the museum co-curate events to present live music performances and conversations with artists from the Americana community. This initiative strives to connect contemporary music to past lineage through preservation, education and celebration.

The Blind Boys and Foster will discuss the American musical past and how it might affect the musical present while exploring the musicians' work and influences of gospel and blues through conversation and song.

"Our collaboration with The Smithsonian's Roots to Pop series has been the perfect union," said Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association and Foundation. "Since our partnership last December, we've had the pleasure of featuring talented artists like Taj Mahal, Allison Russell, Flaco Jiménez, Max Baca, and Rhiannon Giddens. Now, I look forward to the next installment and the conversation with The Blind Boys, Ruthie and Smithsonian National Museum of American History Curator Krystal Klingenberg."

The fourth instalment of the Roots to Pop series with The Blind Boys and Foster is a FREE event with limited ticket quantity available here.

The Blind Boys' career spans seven decades after their founding at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in 1939. After rising to prominence through the Jim Crow era and Civil Rights Movement, the gospel group became Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductees and has been awarded five GRAMMY Awards and Lifetime Achievement honours from the Recording Academy. The Blind Boys continue to tour and record to this day with their latest project released in 2017, Almost Home, which was produced across multiple cities with award-winning producers, including John Leventhal in New York City, Vance Powell in Nashville, Chris Goldsmith in Seattle and Los Lobos' Steve Berlin at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals.

Foster, a 10-time Blues Music Awards winner and three-time GRAMMY nominee, sparked her career through an unconventional path. As an officer of the US Navy, she served as the front woman for the group Pride, which performed for naval recruits across the country. After taking root back in her home state of Texas, Foster released her 1997 debut album, Full Circle, and her sophomore album, Crossover, before she united with independent folk label Blue Corn Music. Foster has released seven records with Blue Corn Music and collaborated with other music icons such as Bonnie Raitt, The Allman Brothers, Warren Hayes, Susan Tedeschi and The Blind Boys of Alabama.

To celebrate the opening of the new “Entertainment Nation” exhibition at the museum, the two organizations began their partnership to chronicle the significance of Americana music and its place in American culture. Taj Mahal and Allison Russell served as the inaugural artists for the "Roots to Pop" series, then were followed by Flaco Jiménez and Max Baca, as well as Rhiannon Giddens, with each session being hosted by Klingenberg.

Following The Blind Boys and Foster's presentation in May, the National Museum of American History and Americana Music Foundation will collaborate for a final instalment later this year.


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