Pic: Charles Bradley at the 2015 West Coast Blues N’ Roots Festival. Credit: Elspeth Erickson
In December of 2014 I had the fortunate opportunity to interview the late soul singer, Charles Bradley.
He was very giving, though he sounded cold, tired and had a worrisome cough (edited out here). He explained that he been singing for the last five days in a row and when I lamented that he had to spend his well-earned day off doing promo interviews for an upcoming tour he was having none of it. “That’s okay, you’re all helping to make my dreams come true.”
We spoke of his discovery by Daptone Records’ Gabriel Roth and producer Tom Brenneck and the improved career fortune that afforded him. The late Sharon Jones was at that time in remission and had recently returned to the stage. The 2012 documentary Charles Bradley: Soul Of America and some of the painful, historical family details it had unearthed had concerned him greatly. These were all spoken of in the context of the hardships and gifts of his life. Despite the cold in Brooklyn, he was warm to his interviewer and even gave the ‘admin/wrap-up questions’ (‘what are you doing in 2015 aside from coming to Australia?’) the depth of his wisdom.
Here’s some excerpts. It was a crackly line and recorded on a mobile phone with no previous intention of broadcast, so please bear with it. I just wanted you to hear his voice… because that’s what it’s really all about. His life in his words.