At age 14, Charles Bradley saw James Brown play at the Apollo, and from that moment his path was set. Before long, he moved from Brooklyn to Maine and assembled a backing band, determined to make his name as a singer. That was well over half a century ago, and Bradley's debut album No Time for Dreaming was released just last year. Good things take time.
The troubles started when Bradley's bandmates were drafted into the Vietnam War. The band never reformed. A decade working as a cook only led to more frustration, so Bradley hitchhiked up to Alaska and back down to California, where he worked for almost 20 years before again losing his job and moving back to Brooklyn to be with his family. It was there, performing his dynamite James Brown impression under the name Black Velvet, that Bradley was noticed by Daptone Records, the New York label famous for its time-warp aesthetic.
It was a natural fit. Sixty years after his life-changing experience at the Apollo, Bradley finally has his platform. You can hear the joy of that in every performance, just as you can hear the hardship of each step along the path in every crack of his voice. Finally, Bradley has proven to the world what he knew all along—that he's a natural-born soul singer. It was worth the wait.