Saturday, July 16, 2011

Charles Bradley: All My Life I've Been Searching For Love

It's not often you come across a story as inspirational as Charles Bradley's.  It was at a James Brown concert at the legendary Apollo in 1962, when the 14 year-old Bradley was convinced he was destined for a life of music.  Growing up poor in Brooklyn, Bradley had to work hard to make a life for himself.  He moved to Bar Harbor, Maine where he learned to cook and put together his first band.  Just as things were ramping up, however, his band mates were drafted to fight in the Vietnam war.

After moving back to New York and cooking for nearly a decade, Charles Bradley pursued his dream out west.  Hitchhiking across the US and Canada, Bradley finally settled in California.  Bradley made a living for himself as a chef, picking up gigs on the side when he could.  Just as Bradley was about to settle down, he was laid off his job of 17 years, and he moved back to Brooklyn.

It wasn't until he was 51 when Bradley first got a break in the music field.  Bradley began performing his James Brown routine, under the moniker "Black Velvet".  Just when Charles Bradley had thought he found his niche, his world was to be rocked again.  One morning Bradley woke at his mother's to cops outside.  They came to inform them that Bradley's brother was murdered by his nephew.  That sad morning was the inspiration behind his song "Heartaches and Pain".

Fortunately, there was good news yet to come for struggling soul singer.  One night, while performing as Black Velvet, Gabriel Roth of Daptone records walked into the performance.  Taken aback by Charles Bradley's raw talent, Roth took him to record with Sugarman 3 at Daptone records.  From there Bradley recorded with the funk band, The Bullets, who eventually became The Budos Band.  Bradley began to collaborate with Bullets guitarist Thomas Brenneck, and together they produced a few singles.  Finally, in January 2011, at the age of 62 Charles Bradley & Menahan Street Band released their debut album, No Time for Dreaming.  Bradley's perseverance and hard work had paid off.

Since the release of No Time for Dreaming the album has received high praise for Bradley's soulful voice that harkens back to the 1960's and 70's.  Charles Bradley and his band are currently touring throughout Europe, before returning for a North American tour.  It's unbelievable that a dream that started in 1962 has finally been realized.

Here's Charles Bradley performing a song off No Time for Dreaming, "Lovin' You Baby."

Powerful stuff, huh?  Find out more about Charles Bradley, including where you can purchase No Time for Dreaming at his website.

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