- Smooth Jazz Network
Willie 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: Willie Bradley.
Willie Bradley, Artist of the Year in 2021 (read that interview here) is back with a new single titled “Rejuvenation”. It’s already one of the most added tracks of the summer and we caught up with the talented trumpet player this past week.
Willie, thanks for taking some time with us! Before we get to the new single, how did it feel to win Best Artist of 2021?
I felt honored and overjoyed to win “Best Artist of 2021”. To be included with all of the other great nominees spoke volumes and that I was heading in the direction of finally being recognized for the countless hours and hard work that it takes to sustain as a Professional Musician in the music industry today. Winning “Best Artist of 2021” rejuvenated my spirit, heart, mind, body and soul. During a time when the whole world was surrounded with uncertainty and despair, I was truly humbled and knew that it was surely my time. This is definitely at the top of my greatest accomplishments.
Certainly, our readers and your fans came out and voted for you!
I would like to thank all my family members, friends, fellow musicians, and loyal fans who voted every day during the process, you guys really showed up me. I am forever grateful.
“Rejuvenation” was written by Jacob Webb. Tell us about collaborating with Jacob on this tune.
Jacob and I are very good friends first. This business is really all about relationships and helping one another. After one of our conversations, I mentioned that I would like to collaborate on my next recording project and when the time came, I called him and said that I had an idea for a chorus that I wanted to share with him and to get his thoughts. Jacob liked the idea that I sent him, but he said that he didn’t think that it was strong enough to be a hit record. He spoke about having a track already written and produced for me and he sent it to me to see if I liked it. Right away I started listening to the track and fell in love it right away. Jacob is exceptionally talented, laid back and humble. He is extremely passionate about his craft and most of all he is business savvy and professional. After practicing the melody and learning the tune I was ready to record my horn parts to the track. My horn parts were recorded at Uppa Room South in Marietta, Georgia by Dennis Johnson. I named the track “Rejuvenation” because this was the energy that I needed to jumpstart my new project.
…and Jacob is playing Bass, Keys, Producing and Mixing!
As I mentioned earlier, Jacob is one of the most sought-after bass players and producers in the Smooth Jazz genre. He has clearly established himself as a six-time #1 BILLBOARD Chart Topping Producer! His signature Paradigm Records sound is very distinct.
I love that Flugelhorn sound on this tune. Was the Flugelhorn your choice for this single?
Using the flugelhorn was Jacob’s suggestion for this single because of the mellower sound rather than the trumpet.
Your musical career has been immense. As a solo artist and performing with some legends in the music business. Can you share any highlights?
As a Music Education major at SCSU and lead trumpet in the Jazz Ensemble, The Department of Visual and Performing Arts and our Director Alvin Fulton established Lyceums to expose inspiring students to such jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry and many others. I was given the task of picking Dizzy Gillespie up from the airport and assisting him in anything he needed during his visit. The SCSU Jazz Ensemble had been rehearsing several charts written by Mr. Gillespie to perform in a concert later that night. Mr. Gillespie and I became good friends. We talked about his signature trumpet and the story behind it getting bent upward in a nightclub. We also share the same birthday October 21st. During the concert that night I was invited to share the stage with Mr. Gillespie to take a trumpet solo on “A Night In Tunisia” written by Dizzy Gillespie. My life changed forever that night! That when I decided that I wanted to perform professionally. My most prized possession is a studio photo of Dizzy Gillespie and I with him holding his trumpet. Yes! He let me play his trumpet. Mr. Gillespie and I stayed in touch and talked on the phone when he was home, he called me “Little Willie”.
And now you have recently become a full-time instructor at SCSU! Tell us about this new branch of your career.
Becoming a full-time Music Industry Instructor in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at SCSU was the icing on the cake for my career. This opportunity was special because I get to go back to the place where it all started for me. I am teaching the students everything I learned about the music business as an independent, recording artist. I am teaching Artist Management, Music Merchandising & Management Internship, History of The Recording Industry, Introduction to Music Technology and Music Industry Practices this semester. Along with my knowledge and years of experience in the music industry, I can teach the required courses and show the students how to apply the information as it relates to the music industry today from an artist standpoint. It is very important to have a solid foundation in order to be successful in the music today and my goal is to equip my music industry student with the knowledge to sustain themselves in various industry situations.