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RIP, Charles Bradley (September 23, 2017) American Soul Singer

Posted by themusicsover on September 23, 2017

Charles Bradley
November 5, 1948 – September 23, 2017

2011. Photo by Vince Hans

Charles Bradley, the revered soul singer who found success late in life, died after a his battle with stomach cancer at the age of 68.  Born in Gainesville, Florida, Bradley moved to New York City at the age of eight to live with his mother who had left him with his grandmother when he was a toddler. In 1962, his sister took the young teen to James Brown’s legendary show at the Apollo Theater, and like many kids who saw the Godfather of Soul perform, Bradley immediately took to practicing Brown’s songs and dance moves.  When he was 14, he ran away from home to escape his family’s life of poverty. He spent the first couple of years living on the streets until he found Job Corps who taught him to cook and help him find a job.  The next 25 years or so found Bradley working as a chef mostly along the west coast and into Canada while playing small club gigs along the way.  Bradley moved back to New York to be with his mother in 1996, and finally started making some decent money impersonating James Brown under the stage name, Black Velvet.  It was during one of these shows that he was discovered by up-and-coming soul revival label, Daptone Records.  After releasing a series of 7″ singles by him, Daptone put out Bradley’s debut album, No Time For Dreaming, in  2011. Two more albums followed, including 2016’s Changes, which included his staggering cover of the Black Sabbath song of the same name.  In 2012, the documentary, Soul of America, which told his story and included live performances, was released to critical acclaim.  Label mate and soul great, Sharon Jones lost her battle with cancer on November 18, 2016.

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