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Charles Bradley: Soul of America, sxsw
John Taws

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'Charles Bradley: Soul of America'

"Charles Bradley is probably my best friend in the world," says Poull Brien, the director of Charles Bradley: Soul of America, a tear-jerking tale of a 63-year-old soul singer who emerged from the Brooklyn projects in 2010 with his brilliant debut album, No Time For Dreaming. The exquisite work was subsequently named one of Rolling Stone’s 2011 Albums of the Year.

Before working with the singer on a music video, Brien had never met Bradley. Now the two talk several times a week. "I feel lucky just to know him," Brien says.

Bradley, who had previously scraped by collecting cans and doing James Brown impersonations, has lived a life that few would envy. "I've been lied to, I’ve been cheated on," Bradley says. "But I'm gonna walk clean." For the singer, optimism is paramount in both his music and outlook on life. "I always kept my head up," he says. "I sing strictly from the heart." Adds Brien of Bradley's second chance in life, "It's just crazy beautiful stuff."

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