11 blindboysSeptember is a busy month at the Givens Performing Arts Center in Pembroke, with two first-rate performances. The 2019-2020 season opens with the Blind Boys of Alabama on Sept. 12 followed by Extreme Illusions & Escapes Sept. 20.

The Blind Boys of Alabama have been singing together for seven decades. In that time, America has experienced World War II, the civil rights movement and the Summer of Love; the moon landing, Vietnam and the fall of the Berlin Wall; John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X; the invention of the jukebox, the atomic bomb and the internet. And the Blind Boys have been there through it all, influencing music in the South and helping to shape musical culture that bridges two millennia. 

The original band members met as children at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind and performed their way to the White House, entertaining three different presidents. The Blind Boys  released their debut single “I Can See Everybody’s Mother But Mine,” in 1948. Since then, they’ve won five GRAMMY Awards, plus another recognizing them for their lifetime achievement. 

According to the band’s website, The New York Times said that they “came to epitomize what is known as jubilee singing, a livelier breed of gospel music,” adding that “they made it zestier still by adding jazz and blues idioms and turning up the volume, creating a sound … like the rock ‘n’ roll that grew out of it.” TIME Magazine raved that “they’re always hunting for - and finding - the perfect note or harmony that lifts an old tune into the sublime,” while The Washington Post praised their “soul-stirring harmonies” and “range of cross-genre collaborations,” and The New Yorker simply called them “legendary.”

“When the Blind Boys started out, we weren’t even thinking about all these accolades and all that stuff,” founding member Jimmy Carter told NPR. “We just wanted to get out and sing gospel and tell the world about gospel music.” 

The Blind Boys of Alabama will be at GPAC Sept. 12. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Call 910-521-6361 or visit https://www.uncp.edu/resources/gpac/professional-artist-series/blind-boys-alabama for tickets and information.

Extreme Illusions and Escapes fist came to GAPC in 2017. A raving hit two years ago, Josh Knotts and Lea are back with brand new acts. Winners of the 2016 Merlin Award and the 2016 Fair and Festival Entertainers of the Year Award, the pair will bring Las Vegas-style performances to the Sandhills.

The high-energy shows, skillful escapes and large-scale illusions keep audiences spellbound.

The Sept. 20 show at GPAC starts at 8 p.m. VIsit https://www.uncp.edu/resources/gpac/professional-artist-series/extreme-illusions-and-escapes to purchase tickets.

Season tickets are available. Go for an upgrade and join the Act 1 Diner’s Club. The Diner’s Club includes dinner before specific performances, for just $35. 

Menus include dinners like port wine poached pear, petite beef medallions with shrimp risotto, grilled asparagus and a red wine demi-glace, and New York- style cheesecake.

The dinners are served in the Chancellor’s Dining room in the James B. Chavis Center. Order meal tickets at tickets.com, or call 910-521-6361. 

Visit https://www.uncp.edu/resources/gpac/act-1-diners-club to learn more about Act 1.

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