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Curtain Up: Spirit and Soul

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By Bethany Powers '11

Published Jan 1, 2010 8:00 AM


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When the Blind Boys of Alabama and Allen Toussaint take the stage on March 6 at Royce Hall, they'll bring more than 70 years of gospel and R&B music magic with them.

Formed in 1939, the Blind Boys of Alabama continue to dominate the traditional soul gospel scene. They record music with artists Ben Harper, Mavis Staples and Aaron Neville, and a cover of Ben Harper's "I Shall Not Walk Alone" was featured on the first season of Lost.

On tour, the Blind Boys have been joined on stage with legends like Prince and Tom Petty. In 2002, they were welcomed into the Gospel Hall of Fame. Although known for their traditional gospel sound, this Grammy Award-winning group has never been afraid to experiment outside of the gospel genre.

Musician and producer Allen Toussaint is a perfect complement to the Blind Boys. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, his hits include "Working in the Coal Mine" and "Mother-in-Law," and the smash hit "Lady Marmalade," which he produced. Originally made famous by the girl group Labelle, a cover by Pink, Lil' Kim, Mya and Christina Aguilera brought it back into the spotlight in 2001 for the movie Moulin Rouge!

Toussaint's latest album, "The Bright Mississippi," features brilliant piano playing, a tribute to New Orleans stars including Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton.

Get ready for some sweet Southern harmonies and some of your favorite New Orleans R&B hits with this soulful combination.

The Blind Boys of Alabama and Allen Toussaint. Saturday, March 6, 8 p.m. Royce Hall. Tickets: $66, $52, $40, $25; $18 for UCLA students. For more information, call (310) 825-4401 or visit www.uclalive.org.

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