The Performers: Carmen Bradford
Carmen Bradford returned to her birthplace to perform with Austin Women in Jazz in October 1996. She also led a Singers' Performance Workshop session during the concert series.
Carmen Bradford was raised in Altadena, California and studied classical music at Huston-Tillotson College in Austin, Texas. She has worked on performance and recording projects with the likes of James Brown, Lou Rawls, Willie Nelson, Lena Horne, Tony Bennett, Joe Williams, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Wilson, Herbie Hancock, and many others.
In the early eighties, Carmen was heard by the great Count Basie and hired as the vocalist with his world renowned Orchestra. After performing on two Grammy award winning albums for Basie, guitarist George Bensen heard Carmen and asked if she would perform a duet on his 1991 recording titled Big Boss Band. The son was How Do You Keep The Music Playing?, another Grammy award winner!
After nine years of touring as a feature with the Basie Band, Carmen embarked on her solo career with resounding success. Finally Yours (Evidence Records), her critically acclaimed first album, began another chapter in her illustrious career in 1992. Her 1995 album, With Respect (Evidence Records), established the Los Angeles based singer as one of the decade's most exciting vocal stylist.
Making more history, Carmen teamed with singer Kenny Rankin for Benny Carter's Songbook Project. "What An Honor!" she screamed as she looked around the room at the many faces of music history, Joe Williams, Ruth Brown, Bobby Short, Peggy Lee, Shirley Horn, Jon Hendricks, Dianna Krall, Dianne Reeves and many more. Carmen was chosen to sing in the great Key Largo for the Grammy award winning album, The Benny Carter Song Book.
Another spectacular dream came true with her performance on singer/ composer/ guitarist Dori Caymmi's new recording of movie theme songs titled Cinema. Caymmi's brilliant arrangement of Bonfa's classic Black Orpheus required Miss Bradford to render the lyrics in Portuguese.
Experimenting with some of the more obscure works of composer Duke Ellington and Billy Strahorn, Carmen was taken out of her comfort zone. A live performance in Paris with David Murray and the 3D Family Big Band featuring flutist/composer James Newton was critically acclaimed. This performance was also special because, on a more personal note, it was the first time that Carmen performed with her father legendary trumpet/composer Bobbie Bradford.
Carmen was included in a two hour world premier BIOGRAPHY Special on the A & E Network, titled FOREVER ELLA. This documentary about Ella Fitzgerald is narrated by Nancy Wilson and consists of interviews with Benny Carter, Billy Taylor, Quincy Jones, Shirley Horn, Rosemary Clooney, Al Jarreau and many others.
Recently Carmen met the Great Doc Severinsen and decided to have "One More Once" with Doc and his Orchestra. She is at present the Featured Vocalist along with other greats such as Trumpeter Snooky Young and Saxophonist Ernie Watts. It has proven to be a most fulfilling experience.
Teaching is important to Carmen and currently she is an instructor of Jazz Vocals at the University of Southern California. Carmen just completed a recording project and performance for education titled "Essentially Ellington," with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Jazz Orchestra. When time permits, she also teaches promising vocal students privately in her home.
Carmen's body of work reflects a vast depth of musical experience an she has truly contributed to the perpetuation and preservation of this American art form called jazz.