Local Musician to Jam with Blind Boys of Alabama at SOPAC

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Maplewood resident and musician Denis Duggan will be jamming with the renowned Blind Boys of Alabama for a special Christmas show this Sunday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m., at the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC).

A Maplewood resident since 1981, Duggan is an accomplished pianist who works as an account executive at WDHA-FM and WMTR-AM radio stations in New Jersey.

Blind Boys of Alabama (credit SOPAC)

Blind Boys of Alabama (credit SOPAC)

“The Blind Boys management thought it would be great to bring in a local person to share the stage,” said SOPAC’s director of external relations Dee Billia. “They have a long history of collaboration with different artists and they thought this would be a great fit for our community.”

Duggan, married with a 16-year-old son, played professionally for many years, including a longtime stint as the in-house pianist at Costa del Sol Restaurant in Union. He stopped playing when his son was born, in order to spend more time as a father.

As part of a WMTR promotion, he volunteered to play with the band. After playing for the Blind Boys’ management — “they wanted to make sure I knew how to play the piano” — Duggan was given the OK.

The Blind Boys, five-time Grammy and four-time Gospel Music Award winners, are touring in support of their most recent album, I’ll Find a Way, produced by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. According to the SOPAC website, this “unique collaboration between one of popular music’s longest-running acts and one of its fastest-rising stars…is a powerful collection of gospel and spiritual songs new and old.”

Duggan is not yet sure which song he will be playing, but he’s not worried. “I can play anything,” he said.

His wife, Nancy and his son will both be in the audience. While his wife is very excited, his son is a bit more blasé about his father sharing the stage with world-renowned musicians. “He’s a teenager,” said Duggan.

His work colleagues will also be there cheering him on. “They’ve been talking about it on the air,” he said.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun, I’m looking forward to it.”

To order tickets to shows online, visit the SOPAC website or call the Box Office at (973) 313-2787.


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