Charles BradleyOld-School R&B Singer
Soul survivor makes his LP debut at 62.
If it's necessary to amass intense life experiences to become a credible soul singer, then Charles Bradley has enough for an entire group. Florida-born, Brooklyn-bred Bradley became fascinated with R&B at an early age, falling under the spell of a young James Brown. But the band he eventually put together to play out his Brown obsession was ravaged by the Vietnam-era draft and the singer began following a trail of day jobs that would take him all over North America, often making his way as a hitchhiker. Bradley wound up settling in California, working steadily and performing casually for years, before a layoff brought him back to Brooklyn, where the soul man, now in his early 50s, started getting attention for James Brown-style gigs under the moniker Black Velvet. But fate threw a wrench in the works once more - Bradley was living with his family when his brother was killed by Bradley's nephew, and the singer went into an emotional tailspin. He was at his lowest ebb when he was discovered by the Daptone Records cabal; a couple of singles on Daptone imprint Dunham followed, forsaking the Brown-indebted sound for a more intensely personal approach. In 2011, at the age of 62, Bradley finally released his first album, No Time For Dreaming, which bears an old-school soul sound and a visceral emotional impact.
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