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 jazz vocalist/author 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 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 Bennet, 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
the Johnny Carson Show that same year.
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) called the 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.
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.
On occasion, Carmen has loaned her talented voice to stage productions and the music of
Hollywood films, cartoons, television commercials, and the theatre. She sang on the
haunting soundtrack for Oprah Winfrey’s “Beloved,” and 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
release, “Sherrie Maricle & The DIVA Jazz Orchestra,” featured on Live from Jazz At
Lincoln Centers’ 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. “Carmen Bradford is doing
it all whether it is a duo concert with Shelly Berg, Big Band with the ladies of DIVA, a
new Christmas album with The Count Basie Orchestra and Johnny Mathis, or her,
favorite performing with Symphony Orchestras around the world.
Carmen is the voice on the critically acclaimed recording, on South African trumpeter,
Darren English’s 2016 project titled, “Imagination Nation” on Hot Shoe Records.
At Present, Carmen’s love for working with Symphony Orchestra’s across the world is
keeping her very busy, as she pays tribute to the great Ella Fitzgerald in her show called,
“A Century Of Ella” with Conductor Jeff Tyzik. Carmen Bradford and the incredible
trumpeter and vocalist, Byron Stripling, also pay tribute to the greats in their show titled
“Ella and Louis” which they’ve received rave reviews!
Carmen has never stopped performing with her Basie family, the Legendary Count Basie
Orchestra, Conducted by Scotty Barnhart, even after all these years, Carmen has always
said, “When they call me, I go” She has never forgotten who opened that wonderful door
and gave her wings!
“All About That Basie” is the new album with Conductor Scotty Barnhart and the Count
Basie Orchestra on Concord Records, Featuring, Jamie Davis, Joey DeFrancesco, Kurt
Elling, Jon Faddis, Wycliff Gordon, Take 6, Stevie Wonder, and the Fabulous, Carmen
Carmen’s love of teaching has been recognized by the San Francisco Conservatory of
Music. The new ROOTS, JAZZ AND AMERICAN MUSIC (RJAM) PROGRAM has
welcomed her with open arms. Carmen is, the Jazz Voice Department.
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, and continues to do so.