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The Performers: Carmen Bradford

 

Born in Austin, Texas and raised in Altadena, California, Carmen Bradford grew up with music in her

home and in her heart. It was only natural that Carmen would follow in the footsteps of her great

family legacy, being the daughter of legendary trumpeter/ composer Bobby Bradford and world

renowned vocalist/composer Melba Joyce. Her grandfather Melvin Moore sang with Lucky Millender

and Dizzy Gillespie’s Big Band in the 1940’s, and sang with the Ink Spots, making Carmen the third

generation of incredible musicians. She has carved out a place in music history for herself and is

playing an integral role in this uniquely American art form called jazz. Carmen Bradford is Jazz

Royalty.

 

Carmen was discovered and hired by William “Count” Basie, and was the featured vocalist in the

legendary Count Basie Orchestra for nine years. She has since performed and/or recorded with:

Wynton Marsalis, Shelly Berg, John Clayton along with the Clayton Hamilton Orchestra, Nancy

Wilson, Doc Severinsen, Tony Bennett, James Brown, Patti Austin, Byron Stripling, Dori Caymmi,

George Benson, Lena Horne, Frank Sinatra, Joe Williams, DIVA Jazz Orchestra, the National

Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz

Orchestra, The Dani Felber Big Band, Dallas Symphony, Oklahoma Symphony, Vancouver

Philharmonic,and countless artists around the world. Carmen performed on two Grammy Award

winning albums with the Basie band in the 1980’s and later collaborated on a third Grammy Award

winning album, “Big Boss Band,” with guitarist George Benson in 1991. Her soulful voice warmed

the hearts of Americans through the celebrated performance of the classic duet, “How Do You Keep

The Music Playing?” on the “Tonight Show, with Johnny Carson” that same year.

 

Carmen teamed with singer/composer Kenny Rankin for the Benny Carter Songbook Project making

history once again. As Carmen looked around the room she exclaimed “What an honor!” upon

seeing many faces of music history involved in the making of this special album. Some notable

attendees were Joe Williams, Ruth Brown, Bobby Short, Peggy Lee, Shirley Horn, Jon Hendricks,

Diana Krall, Dianne Reeves, among others. Carmen was chosen to sing “Key Largo” for this

Grammy Award-winning album. Her performance on “The Benny Carter Songbook” marked

Carmen’s fourth studio collaboration reaffirming her stardom.

 

Carmen began another chapter in her illustrious career as a solo artist with her critically acclaimed

debut album “Finally Yours” (Evidence Records) in 1992. The 1995 release of her second solo

album, “With Respect,” (Evidence Records) established the Atlanta-based singer as one of jazz

music’s most diverse and exciting vocal stylists proving to the world that Carmen Bradford was a

unique voice in jazz in her own right.

 

On occasion, Carmen has loaned her talented voice to stage productions and the music of

Hollywood films. She sang on the haunting soundtrack for Oprah Winfrey’s “Beloved,” and recently

starred in the title role of Duke Ellington’s Folk Opera “Queenie Pie” at the University of Texas, Butler

School of Music.

 

Carmen’s 2004 release, “Home With You,” (Azica Records) is a warm and beautiful collection of

piano/vocal duets with talented artist Shelly Berg. The album is yet another departure for Carmen,

offering her fans a stripped down, intimate portrait of the artist they have grown to love. Carmen

Bradford returned to her big band roots with her new 2008 release, “Sherrie Maricle & The DIVA

Jazz Orchestra,” featured on Live From Jazz At Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club. !

Carmen’s 2015 release, titled John Mills “Invisible Design” Featuring Carmen Bradford is another

example of Carmen Bradford’s ability to sing all forms of jazz, be it straight ahead jazz, blues or jazz

fusion, and swing it like nobody can. With the first, ever, Christmas album, the 2015 release of the

Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, Directed by Scotty Barnhart, titled ”A Very Swingin Basie

Christmas” on Concord Records, with Johnny Mathis, Carmen Bradford, and Ledisi was another first

for Carmen as well.

 

In 2016 Carmen Bradford was asked by South African trumpeter, Darren English, to be a part of his

new critically acclaimed Cd, tilted “Imagination Nation, on Hot Shoe Records. Whether it’s a duo

concert with Shelly Berg, Big Band with the ladies of DIVA, or her new favorite: performing with

Symphony Orchestras around the world, Carmen Bradford’s body of work reflects a vast depth of

musical experience and technical brilliance. She is also recognized for the overwhelming passion

she brings to the lyric. She has truly contributed to the perpetuation and preservation of this Great

American art form called jazz.