The radio stations of Cox Media Group salute a pioneer of Black History who is from our area.
He was a multi-talented gospel composer, singer, arranger, and choir director who was a great influence on artists like Little Richard, Bob Marley, and Ray Charles and helped bring about the modern mass choir movement to gospel. Born in Bessemer, Professor Alex Bradford attended the Snow Hill Institute in Snow Hill, Alabama, where he acquired the title “Professor” while teaching as a student.
Dr. Bradford 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” in 1954 which sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.
In 1961 Bradford joined the cast in "Black Nativity", based on the writings of Langston Hughes. He appeared in Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope, for which he won the Obie award, in 1972. He died in 1978 as the musical Your Arms Too Short to Box with God was in production. Bradford's music continues to provide a compelling message with much of his music available for digital download on iTunes.