Blind since birth, singer-songwriter Robert Bradley earned a living for most of his life by playing guitar and singing on street corners. Since 1994, though, the divorced father of five has been lead vocalist for Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise, whose self-titled debut album from RCA Records is now in stores. The native Alabaman, 47, hooked up with guitarist Michael Nehra, bassist Andrew Nehra, drummer Jeff Fowlkes and keyboardist Tim Diaz after the guys heard him singing on the street in Detroit. When invited to join the group, Bradley accepted in part, he recalls, because "I just figured I wouldn't have to be outside in the cold."
Was it a hard transition to go from street singing to a band?
The biggest part was people telling me, "You got to be here on time. You got to stay here for so long." Before, I'd go where I wanted, and if I only needed $20, I just made $20 and went home.
How does it feel to be on MTV?
Videos is something I don't really get. But it's a great feeling that people want to see you. I just hope whatever they're seeing is all right with them.
What kind of music do you listen to?
I'm into Paula Cole, Babyface and R. Kelly. But years ago when I was coming along, it was Marvin Gaye, Hank Williams Sr. and Elvis; Otis Redding, Jimmy Reed and Sam Cooke.
Have you gotten any advice?
My old aunt was 101 when she died, and she said, "Robert, just keep singing." And that's what I'm going to do.