Thu, Mar. 10 2005:

George Scott by Teresa Nelson
George Scott, a founding member of the Blind Boys of Alabama gospel group, died in his sleep Wednesday morning, March 9, 2005 at his home in Durham, NC. He was 75.

Scott was the booming baritone voice of the group, which formed at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in the late 1930s. Since then, Scott and his bandmates traveled the world spreading their unique brand of soulful gospel music.

While Scott - an acknowledged master of the jubilee style of gospel singing - retired from the rigors of touring in 2004, his voice remained strong, as evidenced by his stirring lead vocals on several key tracks for the Blind Boys' forthcoming album Atom Bomb (Real World Records). His singing on the album is the last testament in a career that spanned over six decades.

Born George Lewis Scott in Notasulga, Alabama, on March 18, 1929, George met the other founding members of the Blind Boys, Clarence Fountain and Jimmy Carter, at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in 1936. They formed a singing group in 1939, for which Scott also played guitar, their only instrumental accompaniment in those early days. The group became a gospel sensation in the 1940s and '50s, and spent more than 40 years working mostly in the traditional gospel circuit.

The Blind Boys have attracted a new generation of fans in recent years via their recordings for Real World Records. During this time, they also collaborated with a number of disparate artists including Lou Reed, Ibrahim Ferrer, Solomon Burke, and, most recently, Ben Harper. Just last month they won their fourth consecutive Grammy award in the Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album category for the CD they recorded with Harper. Scott sang the lead along with Harper on the opening track to that album, and later performed the song live with Harper and the Blind Boys on The Late Show with David Letterman.

It's fitting that one of the last people George Scott spoke with before his death was the group's leader, Clarence Fountain. "I spoke to him last night," Fountain said Wednesday, "and he was feeling fine. It just goes to show you never know when you may be talking to someone for the last time, so always be thankful for the people you have in your life. We're grateful to the Lord for letting us have George for as long as we did. He and I grew up together and sang together from little boys to old men. George was a great singer, he could sing any part in a song. We loved him and he was one of the 'Boys.' He lived a life of service and now he's gone on to his reward." A spokesman for the Blind Boys said that when Scott retired from touring last year he urged the band to continue on and there are no changes planned in the band's touring schedule.

Scott is survived by his wife Ludie Lewis Mann Scott, his mother Hassie Lou Scott, and his sister Benzie Jackson. The funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15 at Monumental Faith Church. The family has asked that mourners either make donations to the American Diabetes Association or send flowers to Holloway Funeral Home in Durham.

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[Published on: 3/11/05]

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