April 9, 2012
How could a singer with the remarkably soulful voice of Charles Bradley not release his debut album until the age of 62? This excellent, life-affirming documentary has the answer, chronicling how Bradley didn't meet his mother until he was 8, ran away from home and lived on the subway at 14, formed a band that never reunited after the guys were drafted into Vietnam and coped with the murder of his older brother/surrogate father.
At only 74 minutes, "Soul of America" doesn't feel fully comprehensive, nor does it add much through re-enactments that detract from a true-life story that needs no enhancement. Anyone with a heartbeat will be inspired as Bradley invites seemingly his entire New York neighborhood to the album release show for "No Time For Dreaming" (Daptone). Considering all of Bradley's adversity, including nearly dying when receiving penicillin at a hospital despite his penicillin allergy, the album had increasingly limited likelihood of happening, despite Bradley's success as a James Brown impersonator. On that note: Think of how good Brown sang about feeling, and know how you'll feel after watching this doc.
See it: 9 p.m. Friday at the Society for Arts, $10