I never listened to jazz or soul music, but I have become a huge fan of 68 year-old singer from Brooklyn, New York, Charles Bradley. When Bradley was younger he saw James Brown performing at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. At the end of the performance, Bradley knew that he wanted to become the next James Brown. Eventually Bradley moved to Maine for 10 years and was a cook at a local restaurant. Bradley left Maine and traveled all over the states and decided to move to California. Bradley raised enough money to purchase a house but he was suddenly laid off his job that he had for 17 years. He moved back to New York to live with his mother.
When he moved back to New York Bradley went back to work on his music. In order to make money, he would perform James Brown acts in nightclubs. Gabriel Roth, co-founder of Daptone Records, discovered Bradley when he was performing one night. Roth introduced Bradley to one of the producers and musicians of the company, Tom Brenneck. Bradley went and rehearsed with the band. Brenneck and Bradley worked together on their music for several years.
Bradley released his first debut album, No Time For Dreaming, in 2011 and then released his second album, Victim of Love, in 2013. In April, Bradley released his third album and one of my favorite albums I’ve been listening to non-stop, Changes.
Charles is one of the few artists I know who puts everything into his music when he performs. I was able to talk to Charles about his tour and what really inspires him to write music.
Charles, how is your tour going? Are you excited to go to Europe this summer and perform?
Yes we are on tour now, we are in California at the moment, It’s been a lot of fun connecting with my fans and sharing my music with people. I’m always happy to go to Europe, We just were in Europe before the US tour and now we’re going back for the festivals this summer.
One of your most popular songs is, “Changes,” about?
About my last days with my mother. “Changes” is a Black Sabbath song and Tom Brenneck bought me that song, I never knew it before, and it was the time we started to record the album and it turned out to be at a time me and my mother were connecting, before she passed. The words, “It took so long to realize I can still hear her last goodbye And now all my days are filled with tears Wish I could go back and change these years,” had a deep meaning to me about my mom.
What inspires you to write music/what are a lot of your songs about?
Love, good times, hard times. I like to speak truths in my music.
What is one of your proudest memories as a musician.
Every night I go out I’m proud, because I leave it all on stage. I sing from the heart, I give you my soul, I want the people to feel good every time they come out, so I have to give my all.
Keep on rockin’ Charles! Hope to see you soon!