Charles Bradley is no stranger to hard times. Born in Gainesville, Florida in 1948 and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Charles spent the better part of his childhood living on the streets. One of the more optimistic moments of his childhood came in 1962, when his sister took him to see James Brown at The Apollo.
Brown’s energy formed a lasting impression on Charles. He went home and immediately began practicing microphone tricks with a broom attached to a string, imitating the Godfather’s every move. With his newfound inspiration came an urgent desire to get off the streets and make something of himself.
Charles made his way out of Brooklyn via Job Corps, a federal program for helping underprivileged families. His job placement took him to Bar Harbor, Maine where he learned to cook. While in Maine, he put together a band and began to pursue his passion for performing.
He had his first taste of the stage when he was asked to perform for some female employees of Job Corps in Poland Springs. The ladies went wild and Charles knew that he was destined to be an entertainer.
Unfortunately, his fate was put on hold when his band mates were drafted in the Vietnam War, and he was forced to find work as a chef in Wassaic, New York at a hospital for the mentally ill.After nine years cooking for 3500 people a day, being harassed by local police officers, and having no musical outlet, Charles decided to leave Wassaic and head west in search of a dream.
He had saved up enough money to buy a new Ford but soon realized that he couldn't keep up with the payments; he promptly returned it to a dealer and began hitchhiking. He caught rides all the way from New York to California and up through Canada.
He persevered through the dangers of the road (including one driver who confided in him that he had just killed his wife and children) and eventually landed in Alaska where he once again found work as a chef.
Though the job paid well, he was not well liked by his fellow chefs, and soon made his way back to California via airplane.Charles spent over 20 years in California, making his living as a chef, all the while playing music on the side.
He had no regular band, but he played pick-up gigs when they came along and sat in on recording sessions to feed his musical cravings. Things seemed to be looking up for Charles, but just as he was about to put a down payment on his first house, he was laid-off from his job of 17 years.
Being fired forced him to re-evaluate his life out west. Ultimately, he decided to come home to Bushwick, Brooklyn to be with his family again. Charles took every penny he had saved, loaded up a truck with the musical equipment he collected over the years, and drove back to New York.
At this point, he was fed up with the tribulations of being a chef and took up work as a handyman to allow himself the flexibility to pursue his musical career.Charles finally found an audience when he began making appearances in local Brooklyn clubs performing his James Brown routines under the alter ego “Black Velvet.
” At 51, he was finally making a life for himself back home. His musical career was moving forward, but he was to be tested once again.Charles awoke in his mother’s house one morning to the sounds of police sirens.
He was devastated to find that his brother had been shot and killed by his nephew. Life did not seem worth living anymore.Charles was down and out when Gabriel Roth of Daptone Records happened upon him performing his Black Velvet act at the Tarheel Lounge in Bedstuy.
Roth recognized his raw talent and directly brought him into the Daptone “House of Soul” studios for a session with the Sugarman 3. "Take It as It Comes" was Charles' first single on Daptone and it proved him as a worthy vocalist.
Roth eventually brought Charles out to Staten Island to see Dirt Rifle and the Bullets, a young funk band playing James Brown and Meters influenced songs. Thomas Brenneck, songwriter and guitarist for the Bullets, hit it off with Charles and they began working together.
They released two singles on Daptone under the name “Charles Bradley and the Bullets,” but the Bullets soon dismantled in order to form the afrobeat influenced Budos Band.However, Brenneck knew that Charles had something more to give and after moving to Bushwick himself, he and Charles reunited.
In time, they became close friends and Charles confided his life story in Brenneck. The young producer was moved when he heard Charles tell the painful story of his brother’s death. Brenneck said, "Charles, we gotta put that story to music.
" Brenneck had put together a small bedroom studio and was working on instrumentals with a new group soon to be named Menahan Street Band. His new sound was the perfect compliment for the heartfelt and troubled lyrics that sprang from Charles’ story.
Brenneck had just launched Dunham Records, a division of Daptone, and would release Charles’ "The World (Is Going Up in Flames)" and "Heartaches and Pain" as it’s second single. A departure from his Black Velvet act, the songs showed a new side of Charles as a compelling artist in his own right and proved to be a great success.
Many late night writing and recording sessions later, he and Brenneck completed their first full-length record, "No Time for Dreaming". Charles always knew he was born to entertain, but in the making of this record he discovered a proclivity for songwriting as well.
The record was a labor of love for both Charles and Brenneck. After years of working together, "No Time for Dreaming" is due for international release on Dunham Records. In the meantime, Charles has been touring with the Menahan Street Band and honing his passion as a singer and an entertainer.
If you know Charles today, then you know one of the most loving, humble, honest and genuine human beings you will ever know. Charles Bradley spent most of his life dreaming for a better one, and now there is no more time for dreaming, just time for singing, dancing and loving.
Frequently Asked Questions
BOOKING Charles Bradley
How to book Charles Bradley?Our booking agents have successfully helped clients around the world secure talent like Charles Bradley for speaking engagements, personal appearances, product endorsements, or corporate entertainment for over 15 years. The team at AAE Music represents and listens to the needs of organizations and corporations seeking to hire musicians, bands, or entertainers. Fill out a booking request form for Charles Bradley, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to discuss your upcoming event. One of our experienced agents will be happy to help you get pricing information and check availability for Charles Bradley or any other artist of your choice.
How much does it cost to book Charles Bradley?Booking fees for Charles Bradley, or any other artist, singer, or celebrity, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. Pricing often varies according to the circumstances, including the talent's schedule, market conditions, length of the performance, and the location of the event. Booking fees listed on this website are intended to serve as a guideline only. In some cases, the actual quote may be above or below the stated range. For the most current fee to hire Charles Bradley, please fill out our booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak with an experienced booking agent.
Who is the agent for Charles Bradley?AAE Music has successfully secured celebrity talent like Charles Bradley for clients worldwide for more than 15 years. As a full-service artist booking agency, we have access to virtually any artist, singer, or performer in the world. Our artist booking agents are happy and able to submit an offer to the musician or band of your choice, letting you benefit from our reputation and long-standing relationships in the industry. Fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536, and one of our agents will assist you to book Charles Bradley for your next private or corporate event.
What is a full-service talent booking agency?AAE Music, the music division of speaker bureau and celebrity booking agency All American Entertainment, acts as a "buyers agent" in the artist booking process. We exclusively represent talent buyers, meeting planners and event professionals, who are looking to secure an artist, musician, band, or musical duo for performances, personal appearances, speaking engagements, corporate entertainment, commercials, or endorsements. We do not exclusively represent Charles Bradley or claim ourselves as the exclusive booking agency, business manager, publicist, speakers bureau or management for Charles Bradley or any other artist or celebrity on this website. For more information on how we work and what makes us unique, please visit How We Work.
Charles Bradley performs blues, funk, r&b music and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, or other music performances. The estimated booking fee range to book Charles Bradley for your event is $40,000 - $75,000. Charles Bradley has more than 174.1K listeners worldwide and really knows how to entertain your audience. Similar artists are . Contact AAE Music agency for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Charles Bradley for an upcoming event.
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