The late soul revivalist Charles Bradley got an unusually late boost to his musical career, discovered by Daptone Records‘ Gabriel Roth when he was working as a James Brown cover artist, and going on to release a successful — and highly personal — debut album in 2011 at the age of 63. The songs chronicled shattering events in his life, including the murder of his brother, as well as the sense that the world had gotten seriously off track along the way.
As a performer, Bradley seemed to pour out his heart to the audience at each show, repeatedly stopping between songs to express his love and appreciation to his audience, and leaving listeners with his overriding sense of gratitude to be living and performing his music.
Charles Bradley and his band, the Extraordinaires, performed a set in our studio in the fall of 2011, before playing Music Fest Northwest. True to form, Bradley held nothing back, dancing and sweating through an extended set for a studio audience. His manager, near the end, told me I needed to stop the session so Bradley wouldn’t exhaust himself that afternoon, before playing his evening full set. It was if Bradley’s performances were a moving train, that once started could only move full speed to the end. This video captures five songs he played that day.
Charles Bradley died Sept. 23 at the age of 68.