Charles Bradley passed away on September 23 at 68 after battling with cancer. He was diagnosed in 2016 and quickly had treatment and was healthy enough to return to the road earlier this year. Sadly, the cancer returned and spread to his liver. The singer died peacefully, surrounded by family and friends, including members of the bands he worked closely with Menahan Street Band, His Extraordinaires, Budos Band and the Jimmy Hill Allstarz.
Born in 1948 in Gainesville, Florida, Bradley was estranged from his family at a young age and homeless before reconnecting with his mother in 1996. Together, they settled in Brooklyn where he started his career. He was signed to Daptone Records after years of moonlighting as a James Brown impersonator under his stage name Black Velvet. Daptone co-founder, Gabriel Roth discovered Bradley while he was performing at a club under his stage moniker one night. Bradley started releasing singles in 2002 with Daptone but his first official studio album wasn’t released until 2011, when he dropped “No Time For Dreaming.” In 2016, he released what would be his final album, Changes, which featured a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Changes.” Many Hip Hop artists have sampled Bradley’s music, including JAY-Z on the 2013 song “Open Letter.” Countless members of the music community took to social media to express their condolences. It is evident Bradley’s music left a lasting impact, one that will be felt long after his death.