Many artists spend years paying their dues, honing their craft, grinding out tour after tour chasing the ultimate dream of being discovered and landing a record deal. For most, the dream never happens. That is, unless you are Charles Bradley. The ultimate "rags to riches" story, Bradley went from obscurity to international fame almost overnight, but that's not what's amazing about his story. The amazing part is Charles Bradley got his break at 62 years old and his newfound fame is relatively fresh.
Charles' life has been nothing short of burdensome. You can say he graduated top of his class from the school of hard knocks and was last in line when it came to catching a break in life. From growing up poor to contemplating suicide to the murder of his brother, his story is documented in the film Charles Bradley: Soul of America. Bradley spent two decades criss-crossing the United States working odd jobs and singing in small dives. Struggling to keep his head above water, Bradley took to performing as a James Brown impersonator named "Black Velvet." His luck changed one night when he was discovered by Daptone Records co-founder Gabriel Roth.
Two full-length albums and a handful of singles later, Charles Bradley is a powerhouse in the current "retro soul" movement that has gained audiences all over the world. The James Brown influence in Bradley is clear and some critics have also compared him to the late great Otis Redding. Bradley is like a living time capsule. He's a window into an era that many generations of music lovers were not able to see. Charles Bradley is the modern day James Brown. Check out his debut album, No Time For Dreaming, and the newly released follow-up, Victim of Love, to hear for yourself.
Amoeba's What's In My Bag? crew caught up with Charles Bradley for another memorable episode. There is no way anyone can watch this and not feel the love emanating from this man. His gratitude is contagious! And he's got some great picks. Charles grabs a copy of Diana Ross: Live in Central Park on DVD and recaps his memory of the show, as he was in the audience. He also finds a copy of Standing In the Shadows of Motown, which is a great documentary! Charles tells a tear-jerker of a story about sitting in a diner and hearing the Eagles' song, "Take It To the Limit," and he picked up Their Greatest Hits on CD. Check out all of Charles' cool picks in this unforgettable episode of What's In My Bag?.
Charles Bradley - The World (Is Going Up In Flames) [Official Video]
Trailer for Charles Bradley: Soul of America