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Professor Alex Bradford

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Biography

Professor Alex Bradford (1927 – 1978) was a multi-talented gospel composer, singer, arranger and choir director who was a great influence on artists such as Little Richard, Bob Marley and Ray Charles and who helped bring about the modern mass choir movement in gospel.

Born in Bessemer, Alabama, he first appeared on stage at age four, then joined a children’s gospel group at thirteen, soon obtaining his own radio show. He organized another group after his mother sent him to New York City following a racial incident; he continued singing after returning to attend the Snow Hill Institute in Snow Hill, Alabama, where he acquired the title “Professor” while teaching as a student.

He moved to Chicago in 1947, where he worked briefly with Roberta Martin and toured with Mahalia Jackson, then struck out on his own with his own group, the Bradford Singers, followed by another group, the Bradford Specials. He recorded his first hit record, “Too Close To Heaven”, billed as Professor Alex Bradord and his singers, sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc,[1] then followed it with a number of other successes in the rest of the decade.

Artists such as Little Richard imitated Bradford’s energetic style, ranging from a gravelly bass to a whooping falsetto, and his flamboyant stage presence.

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