HotStar: Charles Bradley

Charles Bradley could be the most unlikely candidate to ever grace the cover of Pollstar.

In fact, he could be the most unlikely artist in some time to break out as a nationwide hit, since he’s definitely neither a tweenage heartthrob nor a geeky keyboard jockey.

Charles Bradley
AP Photo
– Charles Bradley

But you can totally dance to him. The way you – or your parents – could dance to James Brown. That’s no accident – a 1962 James Brown concert inspired a lifelong dream of becoming an entertainer, one that has finally come true.

Bradley is not an overnight sensation. He has lived the hard knock life, spending much of his childhood living on the streets of Brooklyn, N.Y. He picked himself up, joined the Job Corps and spent most of his life as a chef. Bradley cooked in kitchens from Maine to Alaska before losing his job after 17 years and returning to Brooklyn to pursue that childhood dream of being an entertainer.

Gabriel Roth of Daptones Records happened to catch his performance in a lounge in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of New York City. A few twists and turns later, Bradley was teamed with the musical wizards behind Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and Amy Winehouse.

But it remains Bradley’s life story that infuses his art and live show, and is the basis of “Charles Bradley: Soul of America,” a documentary film that debuted in March at SXSW. Now reaching a global audience, Bradley is realizing his dream.

Josh Brinkman, his agent at Monterey International, says Bradley doesn’t take that for granted.

“Working with Charles as an individual, and his team overall, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a singular artist have as much an impact on an audience that Charles has,” Brinkman told Pollstar. “He’s so committed at this point in his life to taking his songs and his message out to people, and try to touch each and every human being that’s in his audience.”

Brinkman plans to give him plenty of chances to do just that, especially with a new record coming out in 2013.

“We’re going to try to keep and his message going and get him into as many amazing situations as we can all the way through 2013,” Brinkman said. And he has another bit of advice for fans.

“You gotta see him live, and you’ve gotta get in front so you can get a hug. It’s part of the experience. That doesn’t happen very often in life.”