“Life is full of sorrow, heartaches and pains,” sings sexagenarian soul singer Charles Bradley on a single from last year's No Time For Dreaming. Unfortunately, when Bradley delivers those words, he knows what he’s talking about better than most.
We sat down with the “Screaming Eagle Of Soul” to talk about his life, music and his tragedies. He shared the story of his brother’s last words to him before he was murdered.
“’Keep fighting for your music. You don’t work 35, 36 years of your life and not do something that you don’t want to do,’” Bradley said. “After my brother told me this, he turned around and someone shot him in the head and killed him.”
Knowing that helps explain why Bradley’s brand of Otis Redding-styled soul sounds so much more genuine than most singers out there. According to him, “95 to 98 percent of [his last record] is nothing but truth to the bone.”
“I wanna sing about things that I see, things I actually lived and what’s going on in the world today,” he said. “I’ve been through hell and back, living in the streets, living in abandoned buildings, living in old cars, just trying to find a place, a piece of mind.”
Although his musical profile is on the rise, Bradley isn’t through the darkness just yet.
“Financially I’m still struggling. I just paid my bills like any normal person just trying to get above the water. I’m still living in the projects, and sometimes I look around me and I feel like I’m gonna fall, I’m gonna stumble. But I remember the planet is turning around for so many millions of years, so I’m gonna keep on turning.”
That's a beautiful, uplifting thought. Watch the video above for a better sense of this incredible soul singer.