NEW YORK: Charles Bradley — the soul singer whose robust, brassy voice won him stardom in his final years after decades of scraping along — died Saturday from cancer. He was 68.
Bradley — who earlier this year had triumphantly returned to the stage where he thanked his fans and God — died surrounded by family, friends, and bandmates at his home in Brooklyn, his publicist said.
“Mr. Bradley was truly grateful for all the love he’s received from his fans and we hope his message of love is remembered and carried on,” a statement said.
Born in Florida, Bradley as a teenager in New York discovered soul legend James Brown at the Apollo Theater. He eventually found a career as a Brown impersonator, emulating the late singer’s glittery outfits and forceful stage persona.
But even with a rich voice that evokes soul greats such as Otis Redding, Bradley enjoyed little mainstream success on his own until the New York soul label Daptones signed him in the 2000s.
He released his debut solo album in 2011 and soon became a critical sensation. Changes — his latest album — figured on several music magazines’ lists of 2016’s top albums.
Bradley drew an enthusiastic younger crowd as he was booked for leading festivals including Coachella and Glastonbury.