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
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.