Grammy nominated jazz vocalist Carmen Bradford brings talent to Port Arthur students

Published 12:17 am Friday, October 11, 2019

Carmen Bradford is an award winning jazz vocalist who has her roots set in the heart of Texas. Bradford was born in Austin and raised with a family full of talented and loving musicians.

The daughter of composer Bobby Bradford and world-renown vocalist Melba Joyce, Bradford began singing at a young age. Today, she is a Grammy nominated jazz vocalist who is bringing her talents and educational leadership to Southeast Texas for the holidays.

Five students across the Port Arthur Independent School District will be selected to participate in one-on-one vocal lessons with Bradford. Lessons will include anything from simple breathing exercises to intense composition.

“I’m a professor at San Francisco Conservatory of Music and they have a new program called ‘RJAM,’ which stands for roots, jazz and American music,” Bradford said. “I am the resident jazz teacher there, so what I bring to the Port Arthur area is talent. I consider myself to be a wonderful teacher, and it’s important for students to learn to appreciate music.”

At the age of 22, Bradford was hired by William “Count” Basie to be the featured vocalist in the Count Basie Orchestra, where she performed for nine years before going solo.

“It is my pleasure and my honor to show them what I know,” she said. “It’s also my responsibility. I stand on the shoulders of great singers and I hope that whatever tools we discuss or use it will help them develop their voice and how they approach the music.”

Bradford said she intends to fit as much knowledge and teachings as she can into these short lessons.

“I want the students to learn when to sing out, how to keep in time with the orchestra and all the things that are important to a live performance,” she said. “Even if they aren’t into jazz, we are going to work on whatever they want.

“We are going to do breath control, how to sync with the music and how to be a composer and make music as well. I’m going to try to cover everything in a very short amount of time.”

Bradford has performed with musicians such as Frank Sinatra, John Clayton, James Brown and Tony Bennett, and alongside orchestras from all over the globe.

Bradford hopes the students seize the opportunity to hear and learn from her.

“I think it’s important for students to have the experience to meet and get information from someone who has been doing this a long time,” she said. “I am definitely that one.”

Bradford said she will encourage the students to stand tall and stay focused by asking them to do one simple thing — sing.

“It’s like if you’re holding an onion and peeling back the layers one at time, but I don’t think I will have to ask them to focus,” Bradford said. “They are coming to hear and meet with me because they want to be there.”

After the lessons, Bradford will be displaying her gift and talent in a Christmas concert with the Symphony of Southeast Texas.

“The Symphony of Southeast Texas is one of the finest symphonies I’ve ever worked with,” she said. “To be on the stage is an honor. Texas should be proud to have conductor Maestro Chelsea Tipton.”

Bradford’s portion of the concert includes the singing of traditional Christmas songs and she is hoping to see Southeast Texas come out and support the arts.

The Symphony of Southeast Texas “Home for the Holiday’s” concert will feature guest artist Carmen Bradford at 3 p.m. Dec. 8 in the Julie Rogers Theatre.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students and seniors.

For more information, or to purchase tickets visit sost.org. To learn more about Bradford’s background, history and music, visit carmenbradford.com.