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Blind Boys of Alabama’s Paul Beasley Dead at 78

Paul Beasley, a tenor who has sung with the Blind Boys of Alabama for the last decade, died Monday. A rep for the group confirmed the news to Rolling Stone, though the cause of death remains unknown. He was 78.

Beasley, who’d had a long career in gospel music with stints in the Gospel Keynotes and the Mighty Clouds of Joy, joined the Blind Boys after losing his sight in 2013. His first recording with the vocal group was their album, I’ll Find a Way, produced by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon.

His signature song became “There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God Is Seated at the Conference Table),” originally recorded by the Chi-Lites. Where that version reflected the lush strings and soft horns of mid-Seventies soul hits, the Blind Boys’ interpretation focused on percussion and a slower tempo allowing Beasley and his fellow singers to wring new meaning from the chorus. Singer Casey Daniel sang lead on the studio recording, but Beasley embraced his falsetto and stepped into the spotlight on live performances.

“In life there are some things that only come once, and the legacy and voice of Paul Beasley is one of those things,” said his fellow Blind Boys singers — Ricky McKinnie, Jimmy Carter, Joey Williams, Rev. Julius Love, and Sterling Glass— in a statement. “Thank God for him. He was often imitated, but never duplicated. The Blind Boys have been friends and soulmates with Paul for many years. The memories that we shared are unsurpassed. Our deepest sympathy goes out to all of his family and friends. God bless you all.”

Beasley, born Dec. 11, 1944, in DeRidder, Louisiana, once said his falsetto came naturally to him as a child. “When I was about 12 or 13 years old me and my sister used to sit down and see who could go the highest,” he recalled. Other signature songs of his that feature his falsetto include the Gospel Keynotes’ “Jesus, You’ve Been Good to Me” and the Mighty Clouds of Joy’s “Walk Around Heaven.”


In addition to I’ll Find a Way, Beasley’s voice features on three other recordings by the Blind Boys, a group with many members who first came together in 1939. He also recorded another album with the group, yet to be released.

A funeral service will be held in the singer’s hometown on March 25.

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