Words and Pics by Ben Irwin
There are two thoughts that won’t leave my head nearly a week after the earth rattling performance Charles Bradley put on at the Fonda . The 1st being that the fastest rising star in music today is 65 years old, the 2nd being that this man could motion with a single finger towards anyone’s wife, girlfriend, or random college junior in the crowd and they’d be gone forever. They don’t call him the Black Rose for nothin’. Now that I think about it maybe the latter point has a lot to do with the former.
I will not trivialize the journey that’s taken Charles Bradley from 60-year-old line cook to international touring superstar by trying to sum it up in a few sentences. It would be a disservice to this genius of this man to try to recount his story as it’s already been expertly done in his own words through songs like “Why Is It so Hard” and “Heartaches and Pain”, as well as his recent documentary Charles Bradley: Soul of America (available on Netflix).
I’ve never been a man with heroes, even as a kid I understood that everyone amongst us was flawed and idolizing people was a certain recipe for disappointment. But over the last 4 years Charles Bradley has inspired me, and countless others, in a way that no sports superstar, or big-screen actor ever could. CB is inspiring because of his triumphant journey through his faults, and not in spite of them. The entertainment industry is notoriously callous and relentlessly unforgiving but the one thing it gets right sometimes is acting as a platform where people regardless of their age can realize a renaissance.
As the “The Screaming Eagle of Soul” gets ready to take the big stage at Primavera Sound music festival in Barcelona Spain I know his rise from anonymity to a man idolized by masses will not be lost on him. In fact I can’t think of a single other entertainer I know of that has more genuine love for his fan base than Charles Bradley, and in return his fans give their hearts right back.
Pic Gallery of Charles Bradley @ The Fonda 5-18-14