Charles Bradley - Biography

Charles Bradley is a soul singer from Brooklyn, New York. To date he has released three albums for Dunham Records, a division of Daptone Records. Most unusually, Bradley started his professional recording career late in life, releasing his debut album when he was 62 years old.


Charles Bradley was born in Florida and raised there by his grandmother for the first eight years of his life. He moved to New York in 1962 to live with his mother, but ran away as a teenager due to his poor living conditions. After a couple of years living on the streets and sleeping in subway cars, Bradley ended up in Bar Harbor, Maine working as a cook. He stayed in Maine for 10 years, then lived temporarily in upstate New York, Seattle, Canada and Alaska, before settling in California in 1977. At the request of his mother, Bradley relocated back to New York in 1996. It was during this time living back in New York that Bradley made his living as a James Brown impersonator called Black Velvet.


As a young teen, Bradley went with his sister to see James Brown perform at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. He was instantly impressed and would practice Brown's signature mic swing move at home, using a broom with a string attached. He dabbled with impersonating Brown during his time in Maine when a co-worker pointed out the resemblance. But in New York, performing as Black Velvet, Bradley was discovered by Gabriel Roth, the co-founder of Daptone Records, who introduced him to producer Tom Brenneck (also a member of The Dap-Kings and The Budos Band). During their first jam session together, Bradley made up lyrics on the spot with the band playing behind him. This ultimately led to the release of his first album, No Time For Dreaming (Daptone, 2011). Praised by critics and fans alike, No Time For Dreaming was named one of Rolling Stone's Top 50 Albums of 2011 and Bradley toured throughout 17 countries in support of the album.


During the video shoot for "The World (Is Going Up in Flames)" from his debut album, the director, Poull Brien, became interested in telling Bradley's life story. They shot a documentary, Soul of America, which covered Bradley's childhood and rise to fame and debuted at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin in 2012. The film played at festivals around the world and won a Special Jury Award at Chicago International Music and Movies Festival.


On April 4, 2013, Charles Bradley released his sophomore album, Victim of Love (Daptone).

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