The legendary vocal group, The Blind Boys of Alabama, has overcome some rough patches in recent years but continue bringing its unique brand of Southern jazz and gospel to audiences with a new album, Down In New Orleans, and an extensive North American tour that will keep touring well into 2009.

The Blind Boys of Alabama was formed at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in 1939 with three vocalists and a drummer – all sightless.

Founding member Jimmy Lee Carter continues to handle lead vocals for the group. Clarence Fountain, the group’s former long-time lead vocalist limited his touring for health reasons and a third founding member, George Scott, died in 2005 at the age of 75.

The Blind Boys, despite some personnel setbacks, have only become more popular with longevity. Perennial Grammy Award fixtures, releases by the group won the hardware for best traditional soul gospel album every year between 2002 and 2005 and were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame last year.

And like so many younger music groups, The Blind Boys of Alabama have found its music featured on some of television’s most visable real estate. Their rendition of Tom Waits’ “Way Down in the Hole” was used as the theme for HBO’s acclaimed series “The Wire,” and its song “I Shall Not Walk Alone” appeared in the first season of ABC’s hit series “Lost.”

The Blind Boys of Alabama will hit jazz and blues festivals for much of the summer, including those in Toronto, Monterey, Calif., and Park City, Utah. They’ll join forces with New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz for a five-night stand at Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, Colo., before a September 28th stop at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

They’ll continue on the road co-headlining with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band with stops at performing arts centers and universities across North America through November before continuing the trek as sole headliner into 2009.