431,324

Prof. Alex Bradford - Too Close

Prof Alex Bradford - "Too Close" CD
Release Date: Jul 01, 1993

Bradford grew up in Bessemer, a coal town just outside Birmingham, AL. Bessemer's sizable black population produced some of the earliest gospel quartets, notably the Famous Blue Jays and the Swan Silvertones, which were deeply influential on young Bradford, although he'd later revolutionize the male gospel style by converting "quartets" to "groups." Bradford began performing at age four, singing and dancing in black vaudeville, and, while training in dance and music with a great local jazz pianist, Mildred Belle Hall, proved precociously proficient, enough to have a grand future in popular music.
But Bradford had joined the Holiness Church at age six (over the objection of his father, a Southern Baptist), and by the time he was in his teens, he'd become a follower of Prophet Jones, a Church of God in Christ minister (and flamboyant pianist) who went on to found the Christ Universal Dominion Kingdom of God and Temple of Christ, International Fellowship in Detroit, for a time an influential force in the African-American world.
After a tangle with a racist cop, his parents sent him to New York, where he formed a quartet, the Bronx Gospelaires. On his return to Alabama, he went to a private school and later taught himself, thus earning the "Professor" tag. But his calling was to preach and sing, and he did so prolifically, eventually becoming ordained in three churches and serving as a lay minister in two others.
While still a teen, he served in the Army and entertained at camp shows. He returned to the Birmingham area and preached at the Mother Hargrove Bishop Universal Spiritual Church but soon moved to Chicago. There he was taken up by Roberta Martin and Mahalia Jackson, respectively the most important group leader and solo singer in gospel. (Both Martin and Jackson had known him as a boy in Birmingham.) They were both encouraging and inhibiting and Bradford was eventually compelled to make a break. When he finally formed his first important group, the Bradfordettes, Bradford did so distinctively, drawing equally from gospel and show biz choreography.
Bradford continued to write prolifically for others, coming up with two significant hits for the Roberta Martin Singers, "Since I Met Jesus" and "Let God Abide," while making his first forays into recording for New York's Apollo label, in 1951. Like most gospel journeymen during the Golden Age, he traveled and did shows at churches and revival programs much more than he recorded, and Bradford was always welcome because he had a near-riotous act, heavily arranged and choreographed but finally as spontaneous as gospel must be, that wrecked houses (as the saying goes) all over the gospel circuit.
His breakthrough came when he began recording in Los Angeles for the great producer Art Rupe's Speciality Records. In 1954, "I'm Too Close to Heaven" sold more than a million copies. He recorded for Specialty for six years, at one point serving as director of its gospel line, which meant producing such esteemed colleagues as Bessie Griffin, Princess Stewart, and the Argo Singers.
Gospel styles changed and Bradford's popularity dwindled, which is perhaps why he agreed to take the choir director position at Abyssinian Baptist. He'd already made one recording with the 120-voice choir, for Columbia in 1960 (which includes a definitive performance of his song, "I Want to Ride That Glory Train"), and made another for Jubilee in 1969. But Bradford's interests outside church in the late '60s and '70s were more taken up with a series of gospel-influenced off-Broadway plays directed by Vinnette Carroll, who'd done Black Nativity. He toured the nation with the comedic Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope. In 1978, he was in the midst of a struggle with another hit, Your Arms Too Short to Box With God, when he had a stroke and died, aged only 51.
by Dave Marsh

DISCLAIMER:
NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. I OWN ABSOLUTELY NONE OF THESE VIDEOS (UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED). COPYRIGHTS BELONG TO THEIR ORIGINAL OWNERS. MUSICAL VIDEOS POSTED ON THIS CHANNEL ARE FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY.
Prof Alex Bradford - "Too Close" CD
Release Date: Jul 01, 1993

Bradford grew up in Bessemer, a coal town just outside Birmingham, AL. Bessemer's sizable black population produced some of the earliest gospel quartets, notably th...
Play all

Loading...

to add this to Watch Later

Add to

Loading playlists...