"Lord I work to serve you and I hope I've served you well/ I've lived a life to join you, now only time will tell"
—from "Take My Hand"
Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama first recorded together in 2002, when the former had a guest appearance on the latter's Higher Ground, which adapted modern spiritual standards to the bluesy/old time gospel motif.
Harper went on to record his own Diamonds on the Inside, which included several faith references throughout an ambitious mix of bluesy rock, funk and reggae. While Harper has never declared Christian faith (at least on an album), the Blind Boys have had Christian music roots and have been singing songs of faith for some 60 years.
Now that the two are together again, for There Will Be a Light, it seems that Harper has at least taken even more of a step toward—if not outright into—faith, based on the seven songs he's either written or co–written for the album. But exactly how Harper might define that "faith" isn't very clear.
Harper told The Age, a newspaper in Melbourne, Australia, that he looks for "the church in art. I don't look to define my faith. Either you have it, or don't. If you want to put a name and a face on it, and that empowers you, fine. But for me, God is bigger than any box religion can put it in. But it's a journey which is closing itself day by day."
Not exactly words you'd hear from an evangelical pulpit, but at least Harper seems to be starting a "journey," as he calls it. And there couldn't be many better places to start it than with some old guys who've been following Jesus for a long, long time.
One of the Blind Boys, founding member Clarence Fountain, told Paste magazine that Harper's "got soul. We're sure of that. But I think he ...1
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