Blind Boys Of Alabama And Béla Fleck Unite To Cover “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free”

The Blind Boys of Alabama and Béla Fleck have joined together on record for the first time to release a special 45RPM 7” on Alabama-based label Single Lock Records. The powerful and uplifting cover of Nina Simone’s “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” marks their first release of 2021, and it is one to remember.

Jimmy Carter (center) and the Blind Boys Of Alabama

American Christian/Gospel icons Blind Boys of Alabama and banjoist extraordinaire Béla Fleck, have collectively earned 20 Grammy Awards and scores of other accolades. Now, they share the A-Side of this historic collaboration in, “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free.” A Billy Taylor and Dick Dallas classic popularized by Nina Simone, it continues to serve as an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement to this day. The Blind Boys of Alabama and Béla Fleck revitalize the song in a masterful cover that fans around the world will not want to miss.

Jimmy Carter (center) and The Blind Boys perform live at Nelsonville Music Festival | Photo by Rubato

Leader and oldest member of the Blind Boys of Alabama, Jimmy Carter, has helped define American Gospel music over the past eighty years. The Blind Boys are not only five-time Grammy winners, but they are Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winners. Carter sang with the original group, including Clarence Fountain in the 1940s while they attended the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind together. However, he was deemed too young to tour with them at that time. Following his time with the Dixieland Blind Boys and the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, Carter then joined the Blind Boys of Alabama. He has become a beloved member with the group for over forty years.

We’ve crossed paths with Béla Fleck on stage and socially for many years. He’s an incredible talent. This is one of the most unique collaborations for the Blind Boys. I’m excited for the song and 45 to be shared with the fans.

Blind Boys’ Jimmy Carter
Eric “Ricky” McKinnie (center) and The Blind Boys of Alabama

Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia Eric “Ricky” McKinnie began his musical career from a young age. His gospel roots propelled him to greatness after he, his mother, and his brother formed the Ricky McKinnie Singers in 1978. Later, In 1989, Clarence Fountain invited McKinnie to join the Blind Boys of Alabama as a drummer, vocalist, and tour manager. Since then, Ricky has been performing with the iconic group, leading them to awards while inspiring millions of fans across the nation. Learn more about the rest of the Blind Boys members HERE

After sharing stages with Béla Fleck in the past years, I find it to be both exciting and a pleasure to sing on a track with him. Anyone that misses this collaboration is missing one of the best.

Ricky McKinnie of the Blind Boys on Fleck and their latest release
Béla Fleck performing live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Bluegrass artist and master banjo player, Béla Anton Leos Fleck is a true legend in his field. Born in New York City, Fleck discovered his love of music at a young age through TV, radio, and a newly bought banjo. Years later, his relocation to Kentucky instilled within him a uniquely majestic sound that not only helped revitalize modern bluegrass, but also great success over the years. Now, he teams up with the Blind Boys to once again bring even more life to the Civil Rights classic.

I loved having the chance to work with the Blind Boys. I’ve dug their music since I first heard them, and it was such a thrill to be in the band!

Béla Fleck
“I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” | Single Lock Records

Single Lock Records has released this special song on all major listening platforms. Check out the release YouTube below:


For more from the Blind Boys and their legacy visit HERE along with their Spotify and YouTube. Also, be sure to listen to more of the iconic Béla Fleck via Spotify and YouTube:

Bela FleckBlind Boys of AlabamabluegrassCivil Rights MovementgospelNew SingleNina Simone