If you haven’t heard of Charles Bradley then I recommend you check out his work.  He’s a man with a ton of soul and a tremendous talent.  Aside from producing wonderful music he has a backstory that shows us all that it’s never too late to fulfil your dreams and to make a living from your passion.

An incredible story:

  • Bradley was raised by his maternal grandmother in Gainesville, Florida after being abandoned by his mother at age 8 months.
  • At the age of 8 he moved back to live with his mother in Brooklyn, NY. 
  • Bradley moved out of home at 14 because of his poor living conditions and lived on the streets.
  • He previously worked as a chef and took odd jobs as well as being a James Brown impersonator.
  • He was discovered by Daptone Records in 2002.
  • His breakthrough album No Time For Dreaming was released in 2011 and he’s since release Victim of Love (2013) and Changes (2016).

I first came across Bradley’s work by watching the critically acclaimed documentary about his life Soul of America.  Released in 2012 and directed by Poull Brien, it debuted at SXSW Film Festival.  I dare anyone to watch this and not be moved…

So, here we have a guy who’s had the most challenging of starts in life. He’s lived rough, jobbed around and had been destitute with very little hope for the future. Jump forward, and at the age of 65, he’s just released his 3rd studio album to world acclaim.  Regardless of what’s been thrown at him, it seems to me that Bradley has continued to exercise his passion in the hope that one day his talent would be noticed…. but it was only once he stopped trying to be someone else (James Brown), that his big breakthrough came about.   Which leads me to the question we can all ask ourselves… Who are you impersonating now and who do you want to become?

You can check out his tour dates here.

The standout track from his recent album is “Ain’t it a Sin”.


Updated 25th September 2017.

After a prolonged battle with cancer, Charles Bradley passed away on the 23rd of September.

His story remains a source of inspiration to many across the world. RIP Charles – The Screaming Eagle of Soul.

Posted by Steven Thomas

Fan of great ideas and (especially) the people that make them work. Steven is the creator of CurveFinder exploring subjects like collaboration, leadership, creative endeavour and personal development. He's spent over two decades working in the UK media industry holding various senior business and creative leadership roles, most recently with a focus on Digital Transformation and Start-ups. Accomplished coach and mentor. Seth Godin's altMBA Alumni. Lives in Edinburgh with his wife and young family. Always in the kitchen at parties.

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