The tide is high for Sea Ses­sions. Charles Bradley and Ziggy Mar­ley in­ter­views,

For more than 40 years, Charles Bradley played small shows across the US, his tough, ragged holler of a voice ap­pre­ci­ated only by the crowd in front of him. There were more downs than ups dur­ing that time, he tells but he feels his time has come at last

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Front Page -

It could have been so dif­fer­ent. Some­where along the line, some­where among those hun­dreds of gigs which Charles Bradley did up and down the US through the years, the soul man could have struck lucky. All he was af­ter was a record la­bel to hear that pow­er­ful voice of his and give him a break. He wasn’t go­ing to be fussy about where he hung his hat. Any la­bel would have done. Any la­bel who would show some faith in him.

But it didn’t hap­pen. No one was pre­pared to go out on a limb for Bradley.

In­stead, he kept on truck­ing. Nearly 40 years of bang­ing out soul mu­sic in bars from New York to Alaska. Four decades of scream­ers, shak­ers and heart­break­ers. When he wasn’t singing, he was work­ing as a cook or as a car­pen­ter. The dream never died.

Bit­ter? Bradley sighs when he starts to talk about those old days. He’s not bit­ter about the fact that it took so long be­cause it all came good in the end. But it does ob­vi­ously jar with him that he had to wait so long for his turn.

“No la­bels ap­proached me,” he re­mem­bers. “All I could do was go around to dif­fer­ent clubs and sing. I was try­ing to find a la­bel who be­lieved in me, but that was hard to come by.

“I sang and worked all over the United States. No one gave me a chance eas­ily, I al­ways had to work hard and fight for my chance. Recog­ni­tion for what I did was very hard to come by. Other artists would get it for do­ing the same as I was do­ing, but it never hap­pened for me then.”

It all changed for Bradley when a record la­bel man walked into a bar, saw him in ac­tion and dug what he was do­ing. That record la­bel man was Gabriel Roth from Dap­tone Records, the la­bel which put Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings in the frame.

Roth walked into the Tarheel Lounge in Brook­lyn and there was Bradley on the stage, do­ing his Black Vel­vet tribute to James Brown. There are not, let’s be hon­est here, many record la­bel ex­ecs who can spot gold in

a then-fiftysome­thing singer do­ing James Brown cov­ers, but Roth’s a rar­ity in the busi­ness and he knew Bradley had some­thing. He in­tro­duced the singer to a mu­si­cian and pro­ducer on his la­bel called Tom Bren­neck and Bradley’s luck be­gan to turn.

It’s been a long old trip. Singing is what Bradley al­ways wanted to do and he started out singing church mu­sic. “I was raised up in a church-go­ing home, that’s where a lot of my mu­sic comes from, and I used to sing Sam Cooke songs when I was a kid.”

His epiphany as a per­former came when his sis­ter took him to see James Brown in ac­tion at the Apollo in Har­lem in 1962. The 14-year-old Bradley was smit­ten by what he saw and heard. “That was it for me,” he says. “I’d never seen any­one per­form like that be­fore or since. I got a chance to meet him twice and I talked to him and he was in­spi­ra­tional. I just wanted to sing like him.”

He wanted to dance like him too. “Oh, I had the moves,” Bradley chuck­les. “I used to be a great dancer when I was a kid. My grand­mother used to take me to the recre­ational cen­tre and I just wouldn’t stop. I still can move. When the mu­sic sounds good to me, you never know what I’m go­ing to do.”

Bradley took a dif­fer­ent road to Brown.

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