Interview with amazing blues artist Katie Bradley - one of the most impressive stories to emerge on UK

"Blues people are enlightened people who know how to have a good time! That's the best party - Who doesn't want to be part of that?"

Katie Bradley: Traveling With The Blues

Katie Bradley has an amazing voice and a Blues harp style packed with energy that has given her invitations to Blues Clubs and Festivals in the UK, Europe and The U.S. Few artists have travelled so far, and so quickly, after releasing a self-released album, and Katie Bradley is increasingly regarded as one of the most impressive stories to emerge on The British Blues music scene. Blessed with a truly expressive, exceptional voice and dynamic blues-harp playing, Katie Bradley's music is a unique and contemporary take on the classic sounds of Blues, Gospel and Soul; all underpinned by a simply compelling and a dynamic range of heart felt songs of rare emotion.

After releasing "She's Ready" independently in October 2012, an album which featured two original songs "I Hear The River" and "Be Careful With my baby", the reaction to the record has been amazing, with a nomination in The British Blues Awards 2013 for her song 'I Hear The River', and worldwide critical acclaim from the Blues world in International Blues Magazines. In June 2013 Katie received a phone call from Paul Jones "The Blues Band" who directly requested a copy to play on his Premier Blues show on BBC Radio Two. Katie was the only British name in the top 10 also the only female artist. The British Blues Awards were announced at the end of August 2013 and Katie made the final, with the public vote bringing her nomination runner up with Oli Brown to multi award winning Blues Giant Ian Siegal.

Katie has spent most of career travelling, writing and collaborating with musicians across the globe earning her place as one of Britain's most accomplished Blues Vocalists. In 2012 Katie teamed together with guitarist and composer Dudley Ross, and cut her début blues album with the pick of the best blues musicians available including: Dudley, Paul Jobson, Joe Sam, and Sam Kelly. Katie is currently unsigned and ready to record her new album which is 100% original, great material with some fantastic guests from the U.S who already have demo's. "She's Ready" was an awakening, and introduction. The Blues world is now ready for Katie with invitations from award winning musicians and festival bookings for this currently independent artist for 2014 and 2015.

Interview by Michael Limnios

Photography Credits: Leo Lyons, Zjosque Bergman, Sarah Jane Buss-Burns & Lee Thompson

When was your first desire to become involved in the blues music and you felt love to harmonica?

From an early age I was brought up in a musical household. My mother and father are both singers who would always include me in what they were doing. My father is a singer who also plays harmonica, he was always teaching my sisters friends, and I picked up the basics by listening and watching. We had a four storey Victorian house in those days, there was music on every floor.

Blues bewitched me from the age of 11 when I discovered recordings by Muddy Waters in a record shop on the way to school, and where better to begin with harmonica than falling in love with the sound of Little Walter and James Cotton.

"My philosophy is to share the music, to quote a traditional phrase 'to preach the blues'. I am a journey woman, music is about meeting people, traveling and finding common ground – I'm in it for the long haul." Photo by Z. Bergman

What do you learn about yourself from the blues and what does the blues mean to you?

The Blues is the perfect medium to pass on your feelings to others. Through song writing you can express philosophies, thoughts and insights with not only words but your voice and instrument. Blues is truly expressive, without expression and empathy it falls away from the genre. I am pleased that audiences connect with me and I can tell a story with the emotion in my voice, phrasing as well as words – this makes the Blues universal as it is accessible in this way.

How do you describe Katie Bradley sound and progress, what characterize your music philosophy?

The Katie Bradley sound is portfolio of my life, lessons learned, mystery’s and curiosity. My philosophy is to share the music, to quote a traditional phrase 'to preach the blues'. I am a journey woman, music is about meeting people, traveling and finding common ground – I'm in it for the long haul.

What experiences in your life have triggered your ideas for songs most frequently?

The joys of love and all it's complications is always present in my songwriting. Recently I have had a few people close to me who have passed away or very ill and it has taught me to inhabit every part of life. It is easy to write when you see everything clearly ahead of you, writing songs for me is like writing a traveling diary, inspiration can hit at any time of day or night at home or hundreds of miles away touring.

Why did you think that the Blues music continues to generate such a devoted following?

The Blues is full of wonderful artists who span the history of recorded music from it's beginnings, the backbone to all genres. The way that Muddy Waters can connect with people, the way that a guitarist can play a single note that makes people feel good and connects people. The worldwide Blues audience is a community – a society of people who fundamentally enjoy the same ideals of respect. Blues is part of our human history too, it is a record of how we have developed as people and I hope that we will continue to. Blues people are enlightened people who know how to have a good time! That's the best party - Who doesn't want to be part of that?

What are some of the most memorable gigs and jams you've had? Which memory makes you smile?

My favourite gigs are in Blues Clubs and festivals – I often play in a club in central London where the audience are in love with the Blues, I always have a magical night there with the audience joining me every step of the way, it's so interactive, I love this feeling. The memory that makes me smile is my visit to Southern Blues Night in Holland with Blues artist Tom Attah the electricity that flows between us is such good fun we did two sets one acoustic and a jam session which was wild and exciting.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What is the best advice ever given you?

I have been fortunate to mix and observe peers in the music industry who have toured the world, who are very cool and understated, I think this is key to longevity for an artist. “Just do what you do” is grounding advice from my guitarist Dudley Ross.

Are there any memories from recording and show time which you’d like to share with us?

I had a great time recording with a Big Chicago Style Blues band at BBC Maida Vale studios – an amazing sense of history and a great sound. A year ago I was playing a festival in Tenby, Wales and Bernard Allison was headlining, I had the chance to chill and jam with Bernard and tell him about the moment I got to play with his father Luther Allison at a show he played in London. I was only 16 and I played a duet with Luther on guitar, and myself on Blues harp. A moment I will never forget.

"I see Jazz as a bright burst of colour with many threads, Blues is the human condition, a blue artery running endlessly, Soul is the human spirit and Gospel is heavenly insight, all these styles are interlinked."

Make an account of the case of the blues in UK. What are the differences between British and American scene?

The Blues in the UK now is very different to America, but fans have the same ideals. There are a lot of great musicians in the UK, it is a scene that is very varied and truly alive. Different era's of Blues from Mississippi Delta style musicians to great bands that tour the UK festival circuit we all keep the musical fire burning. The main difference I would say is that the American scene, like Europe has a great 'going out culture' music is a wanted part of nightlife in European cities and America in Britain the fans and musicians have to seek each other out.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of music?

I hope that people will come out and enjoy the music, there is a lot of fretfulness in this day and age and it can be remedied by live music, because we are all in this together. Manufactured music doesn't give the same details, and television talent competitions are not creative at all, we owe it to future generations to be original and express themselves, I hope this fad will fade and young people will pick up a guitar, or a harp instead?.

What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you from the music industry and blues circuits?

Mr Sipp Mississippi Blues Child, I watched a video of him play at the Memphis Blues awards 2013, which he won. Wow what a performer. Lot's of people proclaim to be this or that in Blues, but he is the Blues, simply a man (or woman) who can step out onto stage to thrill and hypnotize (check him out). I have also been listening to Keb Mo's latest album which has a track called 'the old me better' it makes me laugh every time – its lyrics and melody are so close to the bone – and a true story I can relate to.

"I hope that people will come out and enjoy the music, there is a lot of fretfulness in this day and age and it can be remedied by live music, because we are all in this together."

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues with Soul and continue to Jazz and Gospel music?

I would say Spirituality, and the ability to convey a thousand feelings in a note, or a phrase. The Blues is always flowing through these genres, and back again, weaving in and out like a colourful tapestry – I see Jazz as a bright burst of colour with many threads, Blues is the human condition, a blue artery running endlessly, Soul is the human spirit and Gospel is heavenly insight, all these styles are interlinked.

Do you know why the sound of harmonica is connected to the blues? What are the secrets of?

The secrets of the harmonica? I haven't discovered them all yet, I can hear the sound of the train and the pleading of a  lover  and I add my touches. I have a lot to learn, this instrument is so versatile and I am so pleased it has become an extension of my voice, but like any instrument is full of mystery’s to unlock.

What does to be a blues woman in a “Man Man World” as James Brown says?

A Blues woman is a strong woman but firstly a musician. If you are a great musician that happens to be a woman than you have cracked it. I look at great Blues women such as Big Mama Thornton who famously played and recorded with The Muddy Waters Band. Big Mama had a a great voice and a great attitude, surrounded by the best musicians of her time and possibly all time. If music is what you were put here to do – you better do it, end of.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

OK so I'd probably love to hang out with Jerry Wexler from Atlantic in the studio with Aretha Franklin at the beginning of her career listening and enjoying being awestruck. Aretha can part the clouds and take everyone with her into the heavens – that would be the best day for me.

Katie Bradley - official website

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