America’s Got Talent Finalist Cami Bradley shares the perspiration and inspiration behind her music.
It takes a lot of nerve to mess around with such iconic songs like the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” or Cher’s “Believe.”
Yet, Cami Bradley did much more than mess around.
To the audience’s surprise and delight, she found emotion and truth left untapped by the original versions.
And, while she was at it, a panel of judges and millions of viewers fell in love with her.
VoiceCouncil caught up with Cami to find out what is behind her success and her genius arrangements.
VC: On America’s Got Talent, did you have to work hard to stay true to yourself?
CB: Actually, no. From the very beginning, the crew and music department wanted me to be me. They always asked me to push back if they were asking me to do, sing, say or be something I wasn’t comfortable with. I really appreciated that. I know it’s not always the case on these types of shows.
VC: You are obviously a skilled songwriter, but you chose not to do originals on AGT. Why?
CB: It was a very purposeful decision. I only performed 5 times on AGT. There’s no room for mistakes or a bad song choice. I felt like I could keep my originality (and even my writing skills, in a way) by doing covers. I also love to draw emotion out of people when I sing. It’s much easier to do that when it’s a song that people know and love already — there is an instant connection.
VC: What is the secret to a powerful and fresh take on a great song?
CB: There is always something about an iconic song that makes it amazing. Could be the lyrics, melody line, musicality, and so on. Before you change (cover) a song, make sure you find the integrity of it and keep that … don’t touch it. Otherwise, what you get is a bad version of an amazing song.
VC: What is your process for coming up with your arrangements?
CB: My process for choosing songs and arranging them changes every time. Sometimes I have an idea from the start. Sometimes I have nothing and just sit and play the piano until something comes to me. Often an idea comes from listening to music and getting inspired by something as small as a guitar line or a drum beat. If I really get stuck, I have several people (my husband being one of them) that I ask for help from or throw ideas at.
VC: What non- singing activities feed your heart with inspiration?
CB: I love to be with my husband/family, ride my motorcycle, write music, play with my dogs, and I’m also a photographer… so getting to photograph people inspires me creatively!
VC: Who was your first favorite artist and how did he/she inspire you?
CB: The person that first inspired me actually wasn’t an artist … it was my dad. He is a musician and I grew up listening to him play and write. He encouraged me in my abilities and inspired me by just who he was a musician and a person. For most of my life, I actually didn’t long for the stage … but slowly that passion has grown in me. I now love singing for myself but also to share with others.
VC: Is there anything else you’d like to share with Voice Council readers?
CB: Don’t rely on your talent. There are lots of talented people and singers in the world. Work hard. You’re never done learning, so soak up everything you can like a sponge. Set goals for yourself — things to improve and work on daily, weekly, monthly…whatever you can manage. And mostly…be thankful for your voice and stay humble.
Cami Bradley’s new album, Seas, peaked at 23 on iTunes pop chart this September after she finished 6th on NBC’s America’s Got Talent reality TV show. Performing a duet with Gavin DeGraw in the live finale of the show as well as two other songs, she garnered an out-pouring of adoration from judges and fans alike. She will be on tour with the AGT live show as of the beginning of October. She has a full-time job directing music at her church in Spokane, WA, a growing photography business, and a new backing band — which includes her husband, on drums. www.camibradley.com