Charles Bradley, 63, endured decades of tragedy, poverty and hitchhiking before he ever got to reach a wider audience. Now, with help from the soul revivalists in the Menahan Street Band, he's performing R&B covers and James Brown tributes - and songs telling his own story. His 2011 album No Time For Dreaming channels breakups, social angst and the death of a brother through a voice that startles with its fullness and rawness.
Bradley took some questions from his Brooklyn home ahead of his Feb. 15 show at the High Noon Saloon.
What's an experience in your life that you haven't written a song about yet, but would like to?
The way [police] treat me in my life and past times, and why I'm still really hesitant and afraid of them. I'd like to write something about that to let them know that, hey, we are the peoples down here, we don't have no way to go to the law and fight with the law when a policeman's doing wrong.
Sharon Jones does a bit onstage about how people in the music industry told her she was too black, too old, too fat, too short. As an older musician, do you relate?
What Sharon Jones said is so true. Sharon Jones got a lot of hurt inside of her too, but she don't sing about it. She just keep it on her own spiritually. I feel that in my life, I feel that it is time to open up, that the world knows the wrongs that they've been doing, and the right that they've been doing.
Is it inspiring to play with much younger musicians who are passionate about the same sounds as you?
All the young kids that I'm playing with, they are very beautiful, nice. I could not say nothing bad about them, but I could say one thing: Wisdom, they could never come to the level that I'm at. They know how to get onstage and play the music that I am singing with, but I want them to be able to get a little deeper, to feel my soul.