Sounds of Blackness is a Grammy Award-winning vocal and instrumental ensemble from Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota who perform music from several genres music including gospel, R&B, soul, and jazz. The group scored several hits on the Billboard R&B chart and Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in the 1990s. Cynthia Johnson of Lipps Inc. fame and Grammy winner Ann Nesby are the group’s most prominent alumni.
The group was founded in 1969 by Russell Knighton at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the group was called the Macalester College Black Voices. It was in 1971 when current director Gary Hines took leadership over the ensemble, and the group name was officially changed to Sounds of Blackness.
The chief lead singer of the group was Ann Nesby until 1995 when Nesby left the group to pursue a solo career. The group continues to perform internationally. The group performed the original songs for the 1999 Disney animated short John Henry (based on the folklore character) as part of Disney’s American Legends, the short was re-released in 2015 as part of the Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection. The original songs were written by Gary Hines and Billy Steele, with a score by Stephen James Taylor
Awards and honors
The group has received three Grammy Awards, four Stellar Awards, one Emmy nomination, the International Time for Peace Award, the International Dance Music Award, five NAACP Image Award nominations and 1 NAACP Image Award.
Sounds of Blackness’s “Time For Love” was nominated for the 7th Annual Independent Music Awards for R&B Song of the year.
Current Active Membership
Melissa Belfrey, Jamecia Bennett, Quintin Brown, Ashley Commodore, Ayenna Davis, Tim Davis, Bridget Dawkins, Steve Dinkins, Rodney Fair, Elwyn Fraser Jr, Terrence Frierson, Lacie Glasper, Reginald Haney, Carrie Harrington, Alexandra King, Patricia Lacy, Yulanda Lunn, Lynnette Simpson, Andrea Tribitt, Victoria Udeh, Anthony Valentino
Daryl Boudreaux – Percussion, Gary Hines – Music Director – Keyboards, Paul Johnson – Bass, Darold McCray – Guitar, Juan Navarro – Trombone, Larry Robinson – Drums, Larry Sims – Trumpet, Billy Steele – Ass’t Director – Keyboards, David Wright III – Saxophone – Flute
The Evolution of Gospel (Perspective, 1991)
The Night Before Christmas…A Musical Fantasy (Perspective, 1992)
Africa To America – The Journey Of The Drum (Perspective, 1994)
Time For Healing (Perspective, 1997)
Reconciliation (Zinc, 1999)
Soul Symphony (Sounds Of Blackness, 2002)
The Night Before Christmas II (Atomic K, 2004)
Unity (SLR/Lightyear, 2005)
Kings & Queens – Message Music From The Movement (P-Vine, 2007)
The 3rd Gift – Story, Song & Spirit (CC Entertainment, 2009)
The Sounds of Blackness (Atomic K, 2011)
Journey Of The Drum Remix Collection (Perspective, 1995)
The Very Best Of Sounds Of Blackness (A&M, 2001)
The Collection (Spectrum, 2003)
The Best Of Sounds Of Blackness – The Millennium Collection (20th Century Masters) (A&M, 2007)