By Cameron Lee
April 22, 2017
In October of 2016, the legendary soul, funk and R&B singer Charles Bradley released in a statement to his fans that he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He also announced that he would be rescheduling the remainder of his tour stating, “I’m getting the best medical care and we are all extremely optimistic. I will fight through this like I’ve fought through the many other obstacles in my life. My upcoming tour dates will be postponed so I can concentrate on healing. Thank you all for understanding.”
At 68-years-old, Bradley’s story is similar to recently revived soul artists Lee Fields, Mavis Staples and the late, great Sharon Jones. Born in the late 40s, Bradley’s music career mainly consisted of late night club gigs impersonating his idol James Brown under the moniker “Black Velvet.” It wasn’t until the late 90’s when Bradley was discovered by Daptones record label co-founder Gabriel Roth, and 2011 when he released his debut album No Time for Dreaming. Soul music has made a resurgence in recent years with the popularity of music festivals, vinyl records, and artists like the aforementioned Sharon Jones, Lee Fields, Mavis Staples, and younger soul singers of the new generation like Leon Bridges, Mayer Hawthorne, and Paul Janeway (St. Paul and The Broken Bones).
After taking a break from touring for a few months to rest and go through the healing process, Charles Bradley hit the stage at the inaugural High Water Fest in North Charleston today. The festival curated by Shovels & Rope boasts a serious lineup with The Shins, Lucius, The Avett Brothers, Dawes, Deer Tick, Julien Baker, and more.
Bradley performed an emotional version of “Changes” on the first day of the festival, leaving many teary-eyed.
Watch Charles Bradley perform “Changes” at High Water Fest: