Clarence Fountain was one of the founding members of the Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama, a group that was formed when he was a 12-year-old student at the Talladega Institute for the Deaf and Blind in Alabama. The group, which drew all of its members from the school, was originally known as the Happy Land Jubilee Singers. They made their first recordings in 1948 after adopting their permanent name and had a recording career that extended over a more than 60-year span. Fountain broke with the group in 1969 to pursue a solo career and recorded two albums with Jewel, then rejoined the group in 1980. In 1983 the group performed as the chorus in the Obie-winning adaptation of a Sophocles play, The Gospel at Colonus, and continued to revive their roles in that play several times in the following years. Fountain continued to record for Jewel in the '90s, as well as issuing compilations of his work on a variety of labels. Working with fellow Blind Boys' alumnus Sam Butler (Fountain had actually mentored Butler in the group), Fountain and Butler released the wonderful Stepping Up & Stepping Out album, an emotionally balanced set of both gospel and secular numbers, on Solomon Burke's Tyscot Records in 2009.
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