The lovely soul of a soul singer has left our plain of existence, and we all have good reason to mourn this one. Since his 2011 debut, Charles Bradley proved himself to be far more than the James Brown impersonator he began his career as. When I first heard his powerful single “The World (Is Going Up in Flames)”, I knew we truly had a modern soul singer who could rival the classics. And while that debut album was a beautiful collection, it didn’t compare to how uplifting Bradley’s story was. He was a true testament to persistence and following your dreams, and if you were able to see him live like I did, you would know he was grateful for every second of it.
Numerous times during his show at the Henry Fonda Theater, he looked to be on the brink of tearing up out of pure happiness and love for the people there giving him this opportunity to live out his dream and perform his art. All the love he exuded was met with equal passion by his fans, and it was deserved. He was a showman, never letting his age slow him down. His voice oozed with the experience only someone who has truly seen hard times can express. Whether he was doing original songs, or his interpretations of songs by others (check out his cover of Nirvana‘s “Stay Away”), the music was unquestionably his. James Brown had inspired him, but over the course of only three albums, he made this classic sound his own. And if it were not for cancer, I know he would have kept the show going on and on.