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Charles Bradley Biography

Home > Music > B > Bradley, Charles > Biography

Genres: Soul/R&B

Charles Bradley, also known as "the screaming eagle of soul," is a funk/soul/R&B singer who has been performing and making music since the 1960's and has been compared to Otis Redding. Bradley was born in Gainesville, Florida in 1948 and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Bradley had to struggle as a child growing up on the streets of New York and often went without the basic necessitates that most are born into. A turning point in Bradley’s poverty-stricken life came when he saw James Brown perform. Brown’s influence was huge, Bradley was instantly committed to wanting to make music, get off the streets, and turn his life around.

Bradley got out of New York when he landed a job in the job corps, which took him to Maine. While in Maine Bradley formed a band and his passion for music blossomed. His short lived fame and enthusiasm came to an abrupt halt when Bradley’s band mates were drafted to Vietnam. Bradley moved to California shortly thereafter, making his living as a chef, all the while playing music on the side. A series of dead-end jobs ensued that made Bradley disillusioned and ultimately decide to move back home. Back in New York Bradley took up music again and found an audience when he began performing James Brown routines in local Brooklyn clubs under the alter ego “Black Velvet.” At the age of 51, Bradley was finally making a name for himself and doing what he loved most.

Gabriel Roth of Daptone Records approached Bradley, having recognized his talent, and offered him a record deal. "Take It As It Comes" was Bradley’s first single on Daptone Records and earned Bradley the recognition he had worked so hard for as an R&B soul singer. Shortly thereafter Bradley was introduced to Thomas Brenneck, songwriter and guitarist for the Bullets, and they began working together. The duo released two singles on Daptone under the name “Charles Bradley and the Bullets,” but the Bullets disbanded not long after the releases.

Brenneck and Bradley remained close friends and musical collaborators, Brenneck suggested that Bradley tell his life story through his music with the help of his new Menahan Street Band. Brenneck had just launched Dunham Records, a division of Daptone, this project became a perfect mix of heartfelt and troubled lyrics that became the hit singles "The World Is Going Up In Flames" and "Heartaches and Pain.” Bradley’s music spoke to his audiences and catapulted him to the ranks of 'artist' in his own right. “No Time For Dreaming” was Bradley’s first feature-length debut album. Since the release of the album Bradley has been touring with The Menahan Street Band and honing his passion as a singer and an entertainer.