ACL Music Fest Friday Interviews

Proof it's okay to dream

ACL Music Fest Friday Interviews

Charles Bradley

6pm, Vista Equity stage

"It's all right to dream," assures the weary voice of soul man Charles Bradley. "What I got took a long time to find. I'm 62 years old, but I didn't give up on my dreams. I just feel that God heard my cry, and he put the right people in front of me."

A would-be entertainer since seeing James Brown at the Apollo as a teenager, Bradley's big break was a long time coming. The Brooklyn native wowed the folks behind Daptone Records doing his best Godfather of Soul impersonation, a chance encounter that led to his 2011 debut, No Time for Dreaming.

"They caught me when I was just about ready to give up. When the album came out, it turned me around again."

Dreaming, produced by Thomas Brenneck and backed by the Menahan Street Band, is largely autobiographical. "Why Is It So Hard" follows the soul survivor's coast-to-coast journey toiling away at odd jobs, while "Heartaches and Pain" chronicles his brother's murder.

"Everything you hear in those lyrics comes from hardships in life," he explains. "I've had more than my share."

After nearly six straight months on the road, Bradley sounds exhausted, his dream of touring as a professional musician suddenly a grinding reality. But don't think for a second he takes any of this for granted.

"The way people show me the love makes it all worthwhile. When people are screaming when I'm on stage, I can't even find the words to thank them and tell them how much I love them, but I'll never forget all these faces. I still can't believe it, so I'm just gonna stay humble and see what happens and hope one day it takes me to a place that I've never been and didn't even know I wanted to go."

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