Photo Credit: Michael Weintrob

Gospel singer and member of the Alabama Blind Boys, Paul Beasley, has passed away. The storied tenor singer, who spent years with the Gospel Keynotes and the Mighty Clouds of Joy before losing sight and joining the Blind Boys in 2013, died on March 13. He was 78.

Beasley was born on Dec. 11, 1944, in DeRidder, La., and was known among gospel quartet fans for the songs “Jesus You’ve Been Good To Me” with the Keynotes and “Walk Around Heaven,” which was performed with the Mighty Clouds–both pieces employed the artist’s unique falsetto. 

When asked how he developed his falsetto voice, Beasley replied, “it just came naturally. When I was about 12 or 13 years old me and my sister used to sit down and see who could go the highest.”

The musician later lent his vocals to the Blind Boys unit, beginning with the album I’ll Find A Way, released in 2013 and produced by Justin Vernon (Bon Iver). Beasley later embraced the song “There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God Is Seated At The Conference Table)” from that album, and it became a showstopper at Blind Boys live performances during the 10 years which followed the drop. 

Beasley sang on three other albums by the Blind Boys, plus one that has yet to be released. He was part of the group while they garnered multiple Grammy nominations and toured the world.

In a press release announcing Beasley’s passing, his bandmates in the Blind Boys of Alabama, Ricky McKinnie and Jimmy Carter, Joey Williams, Rev. Julius Love and Sterling Glass, remembered their friend and collaborator: “In life, there are some things that only come once, and the legacy and voice of Paul Beasley is one of those things. Thank God for him. 

They concluded their statement by adding, “He was often imitated but never duplicated. The Blind Boys have been friends and soulmates with Paul for many years. The memories that we shared are unsurpassed. Our deepest sympathy goes out to all of his family and friends. God bless you all.”

A service honoring Beasley’s life will be held in his hometown of DeRidder, La., on Saturday, March 25. 

Watch a 2016 clip of Beasley performing “There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God Is Seated At The Conference Table)” alongside the Blind Boys of Alabama below.