By Adrian Russell
The story of Charles Bradley is truly inspirational. He lived on the streets for two years, almost died in hospital after being given penicillin and battled depression following the death of his brother.
The soul sensation released his debut album 'No Time For Dreaming'at the age of 62 after being discovered by Daptone Records... or as Bradley put's it "I would say we discovered each other."
He explained "I was doing James Brown (impression), which I'd been doing since I was about 16 or 17 years old. I met Gabriel Roth and said he'd get me on one of Sharon Jones' shows. He wanted me to learn a song that he wanted me to sing. But if I can't feel the song it's hard for me to do the singing. So I went on stage and I thought I'd learnt the song, but the song didn't fit my spirit. So I did my own adlib and everyone went crazy about it."
Roth then introduced Bradley to his future producer Tom Brennick. "He said he wanted to record me, but I didn't see Tom again for at least 4 or 5 years. He moved to New York and called me one day, and at that time I was going through a deep depression - my brother had just been killed and I didn't know how to deal with it. I needed someone to open up and talk to, so we just started talking. He got a little recorder and recorded everything I was saying. He fixed me a Hot Toddy so I was a little more relaxed with myself. Before I knew it we were at the piano and I played a tune I use to play when I was a little kid. That was the first foundation of my brother's song. And after then we kept going, and Gab really got into it and recorded it. Two months later they called me in the studio and I heard the song Heartaches and Pain. I had to get up and walk out the studio, I couldn't take the pain."
The song appeared on Bradley's debut album 'No Time For Dreaming' which was released in 2011 and was shortly followed by his sophomore album 'Victim Of Love', which was released in 2013. The wheels are now in motion for the singer's third album as well. "We're working on it right now", he says. "I'd say the album will be released sometime in the US summer".
Charles Bradley's new found fame also landed him a singing part in the animated comedy show American Dad. "Yesss!!! That was cute! I loved that!" he says excitedly. Was he a fan of the show? "I am now!" he replies.
Making a cameo on American Dad is one thing, but being sampled by hip-hop royalty Jay-Z is another. "Yeah, I heard that. Everybody is telling me that and I'm the last one to hear it... I still haven't heard it. They always say the artist is the last one to know, and I think that's true now."
Charles Bradley is heading to New Zealand this March to play one show at The Powerstation in Auckland. So what can we expect from his show? "I believe in giving the people what they want, and then some. So when I come there, I'm coming with love and honesty, and try to teach all the hearts that I can reach. And teach them the true love of humanity of myself and who I am as an individual artist."
Charles Bradley And His Extraordinaires
Thursday March 26th: The Powerstation, Auckland
Tickets via Ticketmaster