Charles Bradley: Soul of America

Synopsis: Starting off on his 62nd birthday, Charles Bradley: Soul of America follows the extraordinary journey of singer Charles Bradley during the electrifying and transformative months leading up to the release of his debut album "No Time for Dreaming." The 74-minute documentary feature will premiere at the SXSW 2012 Film Festival in Austin, Texas. Despite being abandoned as a child, a period of homelessness, the devastating loss of his brother and constant poverty, Charles never gave up on his life long dream to be a professional singer. With the help of producer and Grammy-winner Gabriel Roth (Daptone Records) and musician Tommy Brenneck, Charles moved away from the James Brown covers he'd been performing for nearly half a century and focused on finding his own unique voice. Earning himself an opening spot on tour for Sharon Jones, the biggest artist in the Daptone stable, Charles delivered the most impassioned performances of his life. Coming up during one of the worst economic downturns i
Director(s): Poull Brien
Production: Sum Of Us
  2 nominations.
75 min

One, two. One, two, three, four!

If you enjoy James Brown music, you're going to have a good time tonight.

We're tonight celebrating Black Velvet James Brown Junior's 62nd birthday! Whoo, 62!

So round about now put your hands together

because we've got a young man coming to the stage.

He's been on The David Letterman Show. Put your hands together

and meet and greet Black Velvet James Brown Junior!


# This is a man's world

# But it wouldn't be nothing

# Nothing... #

'I've been playing James Brown since I was 14 years old.'

# Yea-ea-eah!

# Yea-ea-eah! #


'But now I want to do Charles Bradley.'

I've been struggling for over 42 years trying to make it in the industry

and at the age of 62, I'm just beginning to find my way through.

I never made enough money to support myself in music,

but I'm hoping that this album will make a turning point for me,

that I can support myself in music.

Hey, man. I'm going to give you water, OK? Hey, man.

That's my bird. He make me mad.

I get mad, I go in the back room and close the door and let him scream all he want to.

I have my little place. It's not what I want, but thank God I got a roof over my head!

When I go in my little apartment and lock my door,

I'm in peace,

but going into the projects,

going into the elevator,

getting in there, that's when the trouble starts.

You never know what's going to happen.

There's a guy downstairs. His name is Alfred. Very good guy. Don't bother nobody. Church guy.

They shoot up his place. He showed me all the holes.

I said, "Wow, man! I couldn't live on the first floor."

When it get too crazy at the projects, I go to my mom's house and I sleep in her basement.

So I come here and this is where I crash.

Until the next day, I go take care of the errands,

take care of everything to keep a roof over both our heads.

I like to get a little of this...

a little ball.

Just put these in.

How's that rice?

Let me see.

Just a little bit more.

I came from a family of eight.

My main goal is watching over... is my mom.

And I do the best I can.

It's my baby boy.

And I love him.

'I'm just making her life peaceful,

'so she can not worry about the bills and everything.'

I took that upon my shoulder.

I really didn't know what I was getting myself into, but now I'm in it, I won't change it.

All I can do is try to make something work where I can make a decent income,

where I can live and let live. That's all I can ask from life now.

# Round and round the road we go again

# Where it stop

# Nobody knows

# It's a cold, cold world

# It's a cold, cold world...

# How can we stop the changes going on in America today...?

# Oh, oh-oh-oh

# Go back

# Go back to the golden rule

# Go back

# Go back to the golden rule

# Bring it all down! #

That's a song from the new record No Time For Dreaming, Charles Bradley and The Menahan Street Band.

I can't believe you came out of nowhere as a virtual unknown to us.

Have you recorded before?

No. It's my first time, really, coming out.

I know you've been performing.

- Yes.

- As Black Velvet.

- Yes.

- So, now you're performing as Charles Bradley?

- Yeah, yeah.

You certainly have a great band backing you here

and with the folks over at Daptone, you know, what a great crew they are!

And you've seen what's happened with Sharon Jones

who, you know, just like you, went from complete obscurity to...

Who knows what kind of heights you could scale?

So, that's got to be an exciting moment for you.

I think God just answered my prayer.

You know, it's just like...

I asked myself why it took so long, but you can't question God when he wants to do things.

So, at my late age, it just started coming.

- What's next? Are you thinking big?

- I'm thinking the sky's the limit.

Congratulations on this great record. No matter what happens with it, it's a fine piece of work.

Charles Bradley on WFUV.

# This world

# Going up in flames

# And nobody

# Wanna take the blame

# Don't tell me how to live... #

I don't know how many artists have ever been 62 years old

and released their debut record. He may be the first.

The guy is just getting it going as far as I'm concerned.

He's worked very hard for a long time.

I hope that enough people can hear him sing,

so he can make the kind of life he wants and take care of his family.

# Huh!

# Yeah!

# I'm talkin' to you, girl

# Yeah!

# Only you... #

If you're into funk and soul music or Afrobeat and you live in New York,

Gabe Roth is the guy you want behind the board. You want these guys pushing you in the direction

because their records were phenomenal.

I just started making the kind of records I like listening to.

I think a lot of those soul records have a certain sincerity that I always like.

One morning, pretty early, nine or ten in the morning, I got a knock on my door and it was Charles.

He said, "I heard you were looking for singers. I heard you were looking for me."

I had no idea what he was talking about, so he shows me a videotape

of him singing James Brown songs. Sounds great.

Gabe Roth from Daptone Records brought him down to a rehearsal in Staten Island.

Gabe wanted us to record with a singer. Charles was a singer they hadn't found a band with on Daptone.

Charles had captured their attention.

I just figured, see how Charles works with them.

# Stop

# Stop it, baby

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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