R.I.P. Charles Bradley

Soul singer Charles Bradley passed earlier today at age 68 after being diagnosed with stomach cancer in the fall of 2016. He was on tour earlier this year but had to cancel dates when the cancer spread to his liver. Bradley’s Changes album was released last year and it was inspired by the lyrics to Black Sabbath’s ballad “Changes.”  He said,

“I think about the lyrics very closely when I sing “Changes” and get emotional. It makes me think of my mother and the changes in my life since she passed away.”

The album stayed true to his emotionally vulnerable delivery of lyrics that always has a personal meaning for him. Bradley became an unusual soul star when his debut album, No Time For Dreaming, was released in 2011 because he was much older than the mainstream definition of a successful artist. He performed as a James Brown impersonator under the name Black Velvet for years before Daptone Records founder Gabriel Roth discovered him performing in a Brooklyn club. In less than a decade Bradley along with the label’s star Sharon Jones, gave Daptone an identity and established himself as an underground soul star. His audience was growing after appearances on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and an Emmy nomination for his live performance on Conan and CBS This Morning: Saturday. He also had an appearance in Marvel’s Luke Cage performing “Ain’t It A Sin” from Changes. In 2012, his story was turned into the documentary, Charles Bradley: Soul Of America. Paste magazine ranked him at number one on their Best Live Acts Of 2015 list. Bradley’s theatrical screeching inspired some people to call him the ‘screaming eagle of soul.’  His choice to have a career at an age when most people have settled into mediocrity proved the “too late to live a dream” idea to be a falsehood.

Those who want to send flowers are advised to make donations to the All-Stars Projects or Music Unites.

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