Charles Bradley, known as the "Screaming Eagle of Soul," died on Saturday, September 23, 2017 in Brooklyn, New York, from a stomach cancer. He was 68 years old.
With a powerful and fiery, often pained, performance and a raspy, funky, and energetic style, that evoked James Brown, one of his musical heroes, he took long to blossom. When he did achieve success, that came with his 2011 debut album, “No Time for Dreaming,” he became unstoppable. His first album was soon followed with “Victim of Love” in 2013, and a third, “Changes,” in 2016.
With his fame came TV appearances, including on “CBS This Morning: Saturday,” which earned him an Emmy nomination.
Charles Bradley was born in Gainesville, Florida. His family moved to Brooklyn when he was 8 years old. At 14 years old, he left home and lived as an itinerant until he settled back in Brooklyn 20 years ago, after reconciling with his mother.
Music came first, even with the newly found family stability. The day his mother died, Charles Bradly still performed his sold-out show at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg in 2014.
He spent much of his life touring the US, spending time performing and others in odd jobs and trying to find music gigs. When he moved back to Brooklyn, he began performing as James Brown impersonator under the pseudonym of Black Velvet before being scouted by Daptone founder Gabriel Roth.
When "No Time For Dreaming" was released, Bradley told NPR: "It took 62 years for somebody to find me, but I thank God. Some people never get found."
In a statement following Bradley's death, Gabriel Roth said: “The world lost a ton of heart today. Charles was somehow one of the meekest and strongest people I’ve ever known. His pain was a cry for universal love and humanity. His soulful moans and screams will echo forever on records and in the ears and hearts of those who were fortunate enough to share time with him.”
Roth also aid he told Bradley recently there’s solace to be found for fans knowing Bradley “will continue to inspire love and music in this world for generations to come.”
To which Bradley responded: “I tried.”
Yes, Charles Bradley tried and achieved.