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  • Smooth Jazz Network

Cindy Bradley: Behind the Beats

Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week: Cindy Bradley.

Cindy Bradley topped the charts again last month with her latest single “Drive”. We caught up with the talented trumpeter this past week.

Cindy congratulations on another #1 hit! Tell us about how “Drive” came about.

Thank you so much, Allen! “Drive” is a tune that was written by me and producer Greg Manning. I have always wanted to work with Greg and finally got to on this new project. He’s an outstanding producer and musician (and person!) and is so creative at coming up with very cool grooves. Drive started out with the groove and then we wrote the melody to it. Sometimes I’ll think of a title or mood first, and then write the music around it. In this case, Greg wrote the groove and the melodies were written around the groove. Jeff Lunt over at Trippin’ N’ Rhythm Records is sort of a guru at coming up with song titles and named this one. I think it fits the feeling you get when listening to it and am so excited and appreciative that it went to #1.

You have the coolest looking trumpet maybe since Dizzy Gillespe… Tell us about that pink trumpet with the heart shaped bell.

I am in love with this trumpet! It sounds and plays as good as it looks! Andy Taylor from Taylor Trumpets in the UK designed this trumpet for me. He’s designed a few horns for me over the years, but outdid himself on this one. I wanted a raised bell, like Dizzy had, but with a smaller angle. Making it a pink trumpet with a heart shaped bell made it one of a kind. It’s the only one ever made. If someone wanted one, I’m sure Andy could be convinced to make another! People can check his website out at to see so many cool designs.

How have the past couple of years been for you as an artist given all of the challenges with Covid?

Covid was so challenging for everyone. The music stopped during that time and it was very difficult to cope with. Musicians lost their livelihoods in what felt like overnight. I personally was still teaching through the entire pandemic and spent almost all of it still teaching in the classroom. I struggled with the loss of live music, seeing my students lose so many important things like their concerts, sports games, graduations, etc., and then worrying about my family and friends getting sick. We lost some amazing musicians and people to the virus. It was stressful but I never forget how fortunate I am and am so happy things are better now. Every show feels a little bit more special since that time period.

Tell us how you ended up becoming a trumpet player.

Well, it was really by accident. I was in 4th grade and had the opportunity to sign up to be in the school band. I didn’t sign up. The teacher kept approaching me and asking me to give it a try. I was reluctant, mostly because I was shy and didn’t think I’d be very good. She must’ve known a kid like me needed something like this and didn’t give up. I finally gave in and said I’d play and was given a split second to circle the name of the instrument on a sheet of paper. I picked the trumpet with no thought behind it. It ended up working out and I always have that thoughtful teacher to thank!

And your music education is pretty deep! I have always loved going to school. I started out earning bachelor’s degrees in music education and jazz studies from Ithaca College. I then went right to graduate school in Boston. I attended the New England Conservatory and got a master’s degree in jazz performance there. I worked as teacher since then, but always kept taking classes in whatever interested me. I have since earned a second master’s degree is educational leadership and am only a few classes away from a bachelor’s degree in biology.

Are you still teaching?

I am still teaching! This is actually my 20th year as a public school music teacher. I teach 4th and 5th grade students instrumental music. So, remember that teacher that convinced me to join the school band? That’s me now! It’s wonderful how it’s come around full circle. Teaching is not an easy profession, honestly, but it is incredibly rewarding. I love working with kids and I love giving them the experience of playing music. Music has changed so much that young people don’t often relate to playing musical instruments like we did when we were kids. Giving them the experience is awesome.

You have been one of the most successful trumpet players in smooth jazz and by far the most successful female trumpeter. Tell us about your experience amongst all of these ‘trumpet dudes.’

This is an interesting question and I have many stories on this topic. The answer is it simply depends on the dude! There are those that have treated me with nothing but kindness and respect and that have been wonderful to work with and become friends that I cherish. There are others that treat women differently and will go out of their way to try to stop a woman from being successful in this business. If I’ve learned one lesson as I’ve gotten older it’s to surround myself with supportive people, both personally and professionally.

What is next for you?

More growth, as an artist and as a person. I always want to get better, work with a variety of great musicians, become a better writer and performer and to enjoy life in the process.

Learn more on her website.

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