Gino DePinto, AOL "The first album was the darkness and now this is bringing…
- Posted on Jan 20th 2011 2:00PM by Joe Tacopino
"My brother was shot in the head with a hollow-point bullet," he tells Spinner. "It took me a long time to talk about that. That's why I made that record, 'Heartaches and Pain.' I put all that love and memories of him in there, because he's the one who would help me keep going with my music when I was about to give up."
Detailing the experience of his brother's death, 'Heartaches and Pain' appears on 'No Time for Dreaming,' which is out Jan. 25 via Daptone's Dunham imprint. It's the first time this seasoned soul voice has an original album to call his own.
"It's been a long time coming," says Bradley, who has performed for years under the stage name Black Velvet while holding a day job in San Francisco. "I wonder why sometimes I'm still alive. I must be here for God's purpose because of the things I've been through."
"My sister took me to see James Brown and he just pulled the soul outta me," Bradley says. "When I saw that, right then, I knew what I wanted to do. I never stopped doing music."
Years later Bradley was performing as a James Brown tribute when Daptone's Gabriel Roth spotted him in a BedStuy lounge. Eventually, Roth took Bradley out to Staten Island and introduced him to the Dap Kings' Tommy Brenneck.
"Oh, man, it was phenomenal," Brenneck says about the first time he heard Bradley sing. "For us, we were playing James Brown songs as instrumentals, so when Charles came and started singing, it was pretty unbelievable. It was the real deal."
Watch Charles Bradley's 'The World (Is Going Up in Flames) Video
Brenneck continued working with Bradley and eventually convinced him to write his own material, turning his experience and life story into song.
"When Tommy moved [to Brooklyn] that was about the time my brother got killed and I had closed up and blocked up," Bradley says. "Then Tommy brought me to his house, made me a hot toddy and said, 'You gotta put this in front of music.'"
The result is an album of deeply personal, sometimes autobiographical, soul tunes that reach the depths of human emotion -- unmistakably the work of someone who has seen it all.