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Easter Bradford

Easter Bradford is an openly gay singer/songwriter, actor and human rights activist. He was born James Martin Blackford on February 6, 1979 in St. Louis, MO. His mother, Bonnie Hooper Blackford, an unwed 20 year old who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, was deemed unable to care for him, and he was taken from her custody by the state at the age of two weeks. He was placed into foster care where his name became James McCafferty Schneider. The foster family intended to adopt James, known then as "Jimmy," as soon as his birth mother's parental rights were terminated. However, on the advice of state counsellors, she married and thus her home environment, now containing a mentally healthy father, was deemed potentially fit for a child. She became pregnant with a daughter and then her new husband died from premature artery failure. In all, it took two and a half years for Hooper-Blackford parental rights to be terminated. During that time the teenage son of the foster family had developed a drug problem, and thus an entirely different family adopted Bradford at the age of 2 and a half.

Now known as James Bradley Warnock, Bradford lived in St. Louis, MO until the age of seven and then relocated with his family (mother Eileen, father David and sister Gretchen) to Shreveport, LA. His father, a pharmaceutical statistician, was constantly considering offers from pharmaceutical companies around the world. In Shreveport, Bradford began experimenting with local theatre, church choirs and children's acting groups, including The Peter Pan Players, a group which would spawn several well-known performers (including actor and writer Blayne Weaver, who later provided the voice of Peter Pan in Disney films.)

At the age of 15 1/2 Bradford became discontented with the education he was receiving and decided to drop out of high school to pursue higher learning. He successfully appealed to the Louisiana school board for permission to take his G.E.D. test (the required age in Louisiana is 17) and passed with flying colors. After a semester at Louisiana State University of Shreveport[?] Bradford was accepted into The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Manhattan, New York, New York. It was also around this time that he came out of the closet to his friends and family, and he voiced his objection to the negative treatment he received from school faculty because of his sexual orientation.

Before relocating to New York City (at the age of 16 1/2) Bradford's mother Eileen, a school teacher, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer[?]. An operation revealed that it had spread to other vital organs, and she was given just six months to live. The entire family relocated to Montgomery Village, MD[?] so that Eileen could be closer to Johns Hopkins Cancer Center. Bradford then moved to New York to begin his education. During the first week in New York he was "discovered" by a casting agent who gave him a small role in the television show "Party Girl," based on the cult film of the same name. Bradford appeared in two of the six episodes that were filmed, and the show was cancelled after just three airings. After just a month in New York he was expelled from the university for allowing an acquaintance to shoot heroin in his room. (Bradford would explain in later interviews that his hyper-sensitivity to people in need coupled with a naivete' about drugs led him to believe the friend in question was a diabetic.) A week after his expulsion, his mother died.

Moving back to Maryland to be with family, Bradford began taking classes at Montgomery College of Maryland and participating in college theater productions (among them "Jesus Christ Superstar" "Guys and Dolls[?]" and "Crazy For You[?]." His father took a job in Ft. Lauderdale[?], FL and his sister married a Buddhist and continued living in her own home in Virginia.

At the age of 18 Bradford answered an advertisement in The Washington Blade, a D.C. metro area gay newspaper. The ad led him to Richard Morel, a music producer who owned Pink Noise recording studios in Takoma Park[?], MD. After hearing Bradford sing just once, Morel offered him a hugely reduced rate to record a demo in his studio (see The Sugar E.P.). A four song demo, called "The Sugar Sessions," was recorded with the help of then-boyfriend Patrick Jennings. After the demo was finished, Morel revealed that he was starting his own independent music label, and Bradford was signed on as the first act. It was at this time that he chose his stage name, "Easter Bradford." The first name was given to him by a Hopi Shaman as a symbol of his rebirth as an artist; the second was chosen because it was thought at the time to be his last name by birth. (It was only discovered several years later, after unlocking his adoption records, that it was, in fact, Blackford.)

Working with Richard Morel, who in turn is a collaborator with world famous DJ duet Deep Dish, Easter's first album, Mnemosyne's Lounge, was recorded. The album was never released, although its first single, "Consummate Professional Relationship Destruction Machine", was very popular in the dance clubs of Washington, D.C.. The song was also included on DCide record's compilation "DCide: the 40," highlighting the top 40 acts of the East Coast. Bradford was eventually dropped from the label without a release, as the label effectively went stagnant.

In 2000 Bradford put together a live touring band called The Insanely Twisted Rabbits. They toured the East coast for five months doing live performances in clubs and other venues. The tour culminated in a performance at Omega D.C.[?], a bar in Washington, D.C. The show benefitted the Chesapeake Bay Bears[?] AIDS foundation.

In 2001 Bradford released two E.P.s in the D.C. metro area. The first, "Heart Like an Artichoke," sold nearly fifty thousand copies in local stores. It was a concept album exploring the idea of over-extending one's ability to love. The second, "Sloe Eyed Detatchment," was a melancholy collection of five cover songs interpreted with a sly eye to subtext. (Among the songs was a bluesy interpretation of "Nasty Girl" by Vanity Six[?], tongue planted firmly in cheek.)

Bradford went on to star in various off-Broadway theater productions and built a following in the DC gay community, eventually opening for Jimmy Sommerville at Washington, DC's Millennium Pride Festival. Easter's sophomore album, The Story of the Nail, was produced in 2002. He is also a member of the Washington, D.C. improv comedy group Far From Kansas.

In 2003 Bradford began work on what is technically his third album. His second album "The Story of the Nail" is his second not to receive an official release, though for entirely different reasons. Signed to a smaller, independent label for his second project, they quickly decided a commercial release would not be viable because the songs were in such wide circulation on the internet. His third album, "Suck My Disco," is scheduled for release on Beatnick Blanket Records on June 13th, 2003.

In June of 2003 Bradford moved to the New Orleans area to work on his first novel. He has reverted to using his birth first name, James, and has begun a daily blog online.

Table of contents

Quotes

"Life is a banquet, and I'm stuffed."

"That's like asking me which of my limbs is the one I like the best. Music has always come naturally to me. It's the one thing that I could do from birth, make music. I love acting but it's something I felt I had to really work hard to learn. I love writing, but I do it more for myself than for other people. Even when I've done stand-up comedy I've felt out of place, but when I'm at a piano or a microphone I feel like I'm connected to my muse completely." (When asked which branch of the arts he likes best in The Gambit Magazine.)

Discography

Trivia

  • Won a stereo system in a singing contest at Cowpokes in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Won "Best Voice" award at Rawhide in New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Was a panelist on "The Blank Show" game show in Washington, D.C.
  • Was a contestant (with members of "Far From Kansas") on Esther Goldberg[?]'s "Feygela Feud" in Washington, D.C.

Fan Page



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