By Cynthia Gross
Rising singer-songwriter with rock and fusion roots, U.S. Army Arabic linguist, and Alchemical Records contributing writer Linc Bradham understands the power of language and its ability to connect authentically with audiences when used effectively. The timing of Bradham’s debut 16-track album, Learning, which releases on May 27, is not happenstance. When asked why now is the right time for the long-time musician, Bradham noted that it marks the first time he has the rich life experiences needed to write songs that transcend the personal into the universal.
Learn more about Bradham’s exciting story with contributing writer Cynthia Gross, including how Bradham’s military background informs his creative process, why he believes failure can serve as one of the greatest teachers, and the most important thing he wants audiences to take away from the album.
At 9 years old, Linc Bradham wrote his first poem, and since then, the rising talent has honed his skills across creative mediums. “I think music is just one way that art is expressed,” Bradham shared. “Some of my biggest artistic influences that inspire my music are the poetry of e. e. cummings, and Robert Frost is another poet I absolutely love – the way he illustrates with words.”
Bradham’s musical influences consist of individuals who have “done something completely new or created a new sound,” including Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and experimental jazz artist Sun Ra, as well as singer-songwriters Tracy Chapman and Prince. Learning draws from these eclectic influences in a compelling way, showcasing Bradham’s ability to create a sound that is distinct, unpretentious, and immediately affecting.
Learning, which merits an uninterrupted start-to-finish listen, takes listeners on a journey that chronicles the ups and downs of life. One of the most significant tracks, “Sorry, I’m Not Sorry,” featuring Charlottesville, VA staple flutist and saxophonist Gina Sobel, is a smooth, jazz-influenced gem that shines both musically and lyrically, adding pick-me-up vibes.
“Save You,” another one of the album’s standout tracks, is a mellow, poignant composition in which Bradham processes the tragic loss of a loved one and the memories left behind. Featuring Linc Bradham on piano, vocals, rhythm guitar, percussion, along with songwriting and production credits for each song; in addition to Savannah, GA-based Max Christman on drums; Darien Converse on bass; and Asheville, NC-based Daniel Seriff on lead guitar, Learning was mixed by Collin Peterson of Manor Time Recording Company and mastered by Greg Lukens of Rush, Bonnie Raitt, and Janis Joplin fame.
When asked for his personal favorites, Bradham named the title track, “Learning,” which is “one of the most deeply personal songs on the album and also the most musically adventurous and experimental.” “Keep Running Away,” one of his least favorite songs originally, took over a year to write and was a difficult process. Surprisingly, Bradham notes that it turned out to be one of his favorites, a track that he believes will resonate widely with audiences.
Early on in the creative process, Bradham discovered that his vocal technique was one aspect of his musicianship that required attention. A cold email to legendary musician George Shirley – 2014 National Medal of the Arts recipient (the highest honor given for artistic contributions in the United States, presented by former President Obama), the first African American to hold a lead tenor role at the Metropolitan Opera House, as well as the first person of color in the U.S. Army Chorus and U.S. Army Band – yielded a valuable mentorship opportunity for Bradham who was able to strengthen his chops under Mr. Shirley’s supportive, but still “tough as nails” approach.
In addition to managing his music career, Linc Bradham is an Arabic linguist in the Army, a position he’s held since 2009. “I auditioned for and got into some pretty big music schools and decided not to go because I was afraid that I would not be able to support myself or be good enough of a musician to do so,” he reflected. Ironically, the Army has become the very path that allows Bradham to support himself as a full-time musician. In 2021, he was accepted into the prestigious Army Band as a sound engineer and audio technician.
Bradham notes that his military background equips him with the discipline needed to grow as a musician, including practicing scales daily and writing regularly, not only when inspiration is flowing, but as a commitment and duty. However, like most success stories, Bradham’s Army Band victory did not come easy. In fact, it began with a crushing failure.
In 2015, Bradham auditioned for the Army Band and fell short by a mere two points. Although he felt defeated at the time, Bradham channeled his energy into improving his skills through countless hours of practice and training. Five years later, Bradham was ready to reaudition, and this time around, he excelled. Bradham gives a shout-out to Collin Peterson of Manor Time Recording Company for helping to shore up his sound design proficiency through an intensive training program.
Bradham encourages anyone facing defeat to stay the course and use the experience as a learning opportunity. “Even if you fail at something once doesn’t mean you failed at it forever,” he said. “It’s a cliché – when one door closes, another one opens – but it’s true. The initial door that closed may not be closed forever, and it may open in a different way than you anticipated.”
The Army Band position also marks a full circle moment for another important reason. Due to the shortage of Army sound engineers and audio technicians, Bradham was able to select from a host of post locations (which is why he selected the sound engineer track the second time around instead of piano), and what better choice than his hometown? “For the first 18 years of my life, all I could think about was wanting to leave home and seeing the world,” he said regarding his return to Savannah, Georgia. “Now, 13 years, 5 countries, and 10 states later, I feel ready to come home and experience my city and long-time friends again.”
Bradham describes Learning as “a snapshot of me and my life, as a 31-year-old dude who has been living on his own since he was 18. Someone who also realizes that as a white, cisgender male, I am afforded privileges that not everyone is.” And like the greats, Bradham channels his personal experiences to create art that speaks to the masses in a tender, affectionate way. To experience Learning is to understand that growth is not passive. Investment is a prerequisite for becoming the best person you can be.
“The main message from the album is that journey from wanting togetherness, but realizing you also have to process individually,” Bradham explained. “Once you go through it and process on your own, the togetherness you’re looking for often falls into your lap naturally – but only after you’ve done the work.”
On May 26, at 8:30 p.m. EDT, Linc Bradham and his band will host The Full Learning Experience, an album release event sponsored by Alchemical Records, including exclusive performances, raffles, and custom cocktails and mocktails. You don’t want to miss it. Pre-save the full Learning album here, and stay tuned for the band’s upcoming tour dates by signing up for Bradham’s mailing list.
Maryland-based singer-songwriter Cynthia Gross seeks to inspire an awakening to all we are and all we can become. With a passion for language in all of its forms and more than a decade of experience as a professional ghostwriter, she is a light seeker who understands the power of each individual’s voice to create positive, meaningful change.
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