Charles Bradley tonight (1948-2017). With the sad news earlier today of the passing of Blues/Funk/Soul/ R&B legend Charles Bradley at the age of 68, we can honestly say we hardly got to know him before he was “otherwise detained”, owing to a long bout with Stomach Cancer, which he was diagnosed with in October of last year.
Charles Bradley came late to the party. After a life of odd-jobs, before settling in Los Angeles in 1977. He moved back to his native Brooklyn in 1996 where he started singing as a James Brown impersonator.
He landed his first recording contract in 2002 with Daptone Records, releasing a series of singles. His debut album came out in 2011 and it was then that his reputation started to grow. Between 2011 and 2016, Bradley released three albums. His life and early career highlights were part of a documentary in 2012, Charles Bradley: Soul Of America.
His goal was to produce honest music – music with no frills or gimmicks. Music that spoke of his early struggles, the murder of his brother, initially singing in cover bands between working odd jobs to make ends meet. It was a long and sometimes difficult road.
In an interview with Pitchfork, Bradley emphasized the importance of making honest music. “If you want to give a show, make it real, and people will listen to you more carefully,” he said. “I’m singing the truth; I put my heart and soul into it. If you’re gonna sing, sing from your heart and the world will hear you.”
And so it was with shock and sadness that the news of Charles Bradley’s death came. Diagnosed with Cancer last October, which forced him to cancel a number of shows, he was briefly in remission before the Cancer returned again, making its way to his liver.
As way of tribute to the artistry of a singer whose life was cut short, but not so short that he wasn’t able to achieve his life’s goal, here is a concert he performed in Belgium in 2013 at Anciennes Belgique.
Further proof it is never too late and you are never too old to live your dream.