Who is Carmen Bradford?
I am the descendant of Jazz vocalist, Melvin Moore (grandfather who sang with big band leader, Lucky Millander, Jimmy Lunceford, recorded and sang with Dizzy Gillespie’s big band in the 1940’s… daughter of vocal jazz great, Melba Joyce, and daughter to jazz trumpeter, Bobby Bradford). A long lineage of jazz royalty. I had the great fortune to have been hired by William Count Basie himself, and with that incredible fortune, it set me off on a wonderful journey, and dedication to jazz music that has been a dream come true! It’s a responsibility to this music I take very seriously, and loving every waking moment to keep jazz alive!
What would you do differently to what you do now?
Trusted myself more, as far as taking more risk musically. Don’t be so shy! If I had to speak to my younger self, I’d tell me to jump in the deep water, and kick harder and kick ass!
Who inspires you and why?
My mother, jazz vocalist, Melba Joyce inspired me first. I learned and copied everything from her, to breath control, to phrasing. She is the one that exposed me to everything. All the greatest singers… Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joe Williams, Carmen McRae, Barbra Streisand, and so many others! These voices were my foundation!
What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I hope I’m making a difference and inspiring young singers across the world to keep this music alive. I would hope that I am an example in exposing them to something that’s so much bigger than all of us. Nothing heals/soothes the soul like jazz.
Favourite holiday destination and why?
Home. I am on tour quite a bit, and to spend time with my husband is the best. My husband is a huge support to me.
When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
When my friends come to town, the attraction they love most, is coming to my home for an incredible evening of fun, and a meal, prepared by me! We have great conversation, laugh very hard, and listen to great jazz recordings. So much fun!
What are you currently reading?
At the moment, I am preparing for my new teaching position at San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s new jazz program called RJAM – Roots, Jazz, And American Music. It’s a very exciting time for me, and my future vocal students, as I will be creating the vocal program, as the new resident vocal instructor.
What are you currently listening to?
Everyone from Doris Day to Joe Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, early Count Basie Orchestra, Joni Mitchell, Jonathan Butler to Nina Simone!
Being home with my husband.
What does the future hold for you?
Great performances with incredible musicians, finishing my book titled, Sweet Meets and Tender Moments in Music, inspiring some new vocalist through RJAM, and new recording projects! Life is great!
Carmen can be heard with the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra – when they play the Canberra Theatre (Tuesday 31 July); QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane (Wednesday 1 August); Concert Hall – Sydney Opera House (Thursday 2 August); and Hamer Hall – Arts Centre Melbourne (Friday 3 August). For more information, visit: www.countbasieinconcert.com for details.
Image: Carmen Bradford (supplied)