Charles Bradley

Growing up penniless on the streets of New York, Charles Bradley worked as a cook and hitch-hiked his way across America, facing all sorts of adventures and hardships. He struggled to read or write but, after seeing James Brown at the Apollo in 1962, developed his own vocal talents and spent 20 years impersonating the Godfather of Soul at small shows. He moved back to Brooklyn in the 1990s to look after his sick mother, and it was in Brooklyn that his Black Velvet persona impressed Daptone Records boss Gabriel Rotm who encouraged him to abandon the James Brown tribute routine and pursue a career as an artist in his own right. His story was captured brilliantly in the documentary 'Soul of America' which shows the humble, big-hearted, down-trodden 60-year-old escape from poverty and realise his dreams with ecstatically received, sold-out live shows and acclaimed debut album 'No Time for Dreaming' (2011). His lung-bursting performances of emotive, heartbreaking songs continued on follow-up 'Victim of Love' (2013) and Bradley became an international star, touring across Europe with Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and starring at the 2013 Glastonbury Festival. His third album 'Changes' was released in 2016 but this was to be his final offering as he passed away the following year aged just 68.

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