Easter Bradford - Openly Gay Singer/Songwriter Breaks Ground

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A Press Release about singer Easter Bradford, his past works and upcoming project.

“We need more of this. We need him.” – Tori Amos

“It’s about time for somebody to be a gay icon for the kids that need it. He could be it.” – Margaret Cho

“Music that is catchy and hypnotic” – BandMates.com

“His voice is amazingly powerful.”

–    D. Huw Richardson

“Who knew this untapped source was waiting in the wings?” – Cyndi Lauper

“Easter Bradford, in my opinion, is an artist lost and found. There has been a great Tsunami shift in the world of music. Most of you will have not realized it until it's too late, and Easter is one of the great budding survivors.” – Richard Swaine, Thinking Round Magazine

“Honestly? I hope he never makes it. The kid is too good for you people.” - Madonna

Easter Bradford – Bio

Born James Martin Blackford in St. Louis, MO on February 6th, 1979 to a schizophrenic Catholic mother (and an unknown father,) it seems the life of Easter Bradford was destined to be bumpy and take unexpected turns. Bonnie Hooper Blackford, just 20 years old, was intoxicated when a man at a party seduced and intoxicated her. The daughter of strict Catholic parents, she decided to go through with the pregnancy and put her child up for adoption. After 2 years in foster care (where his name because James McCafferty Schneider,) Easter was adopted by David and Eileen Warnock. It was this family who raised him, along with older sister Gretchen, eventually relocating to Shreveport, LA when Easter was just 7 years old.

Easter had always shown an interest in music, constantly participating in community theater productions and always being chosen as the lead in school plays. It was when, in fifth grade, he was chosen to be the lead in two school plays on the same night, that his mother realized there was something magical happening. The family enrolled Easter in voice and piano lessons, and by the time he was in middle school he was the weekend performer at the Shreveport Sheraton, playing standards to delighted crowds of businessmen. He also recorded an independent project called “Both Hands in the Fyre” (under the name James Warnock,) which became a hit with the local college scene.

Easter dropped out of high school during the first months of his sophomore year when he realized that he was not getting the education that would propel him into the career he desired. After taking his G.E.D. (he had to appeal to the Louisiana school board for permission to do so because he was under 17) he was accepted into The American Musical and Dramatic Academy of Manhattan. Just as plans were in motion to move Easter to live on his own in New York City, his mother Eileen was diagnosed with severe pancreatic cancer and given just months to live. After just several months of college Easter was kicked out for allowing a friend to shoot heroin in his dorm room. (He would later chalk the act up to being hyper-sensitive to those in physical pain because of his mother’s condition.) A week after, his mother died.

Just barely 17 and with his dreams seemingly crushed, Easter moved in with his father in Montgomery Village, MD (where the family had relocated when he mother became ill.) Eventually his devastated father moved to Florida and left supervision of the sale of the family home to Easter. He began to strike out in the Washington, DC area and eventually got the attention of Richard Morel, famous for remixing songs by artists like The Pet Shop Boys, Tina Turner and Madonna. Richard offered the use of his recording studios to Easter at a discounted rate, and Easter wrote and recorded “The Sugar E.P.” (so titled because it included a cover of the Tori Amos B-side “Sugar.”) The E.P. was recorded on a shoestring of a budget, but with the mastery of Morel behind the wheel, it showcased the beautiful and sultry vocals that Easter would come to be known for.

Unbeknownst to Easter, Richard Morel had been working closely with dance producers Deep Dish to start his own independent record label, Pink Noise. With the backing of Sony Music/Work Group, the label was formed and Easter was one of the first two acts signed. Easter and Richard began working very closely on the project, to be titled “Mnemosyne’s Lounge.” A mixture of Easter’s confessional songwriting and intense vocals and Richard’s pop and dance sensibilities, it seemed a sure fire hit in the making. The label began creating an “image” for Easter as a new-age, openly-gay (but hyper-masculine,) pop icon. (The name Easter Bradford came about because of two mistakes: the first being Easter’s involvement with a dodgy Pagan community who bestowed the name “Easter” on him in a ritual that he now dismisses as “hilarious;” and the second being the misinformation that his last name by birth had been Bradford.)

“Mnemosyne’s Lounge” was to be a 12 track album, with a song dedicated to each of the Greek Muses (Goddesses of various aspects of the arts, and daughters of Mnemosyne, the Goddess of memory) and to the Furies (sisters of Mnemosyne and bringers of terror over evil aspects of man.) Photo sessions were scheduled with famed photographer Billy Bustamente, who took photos of Easter with supermodel James King dressed as the Goddess. Heavy promotion began to start, and Easter made various East Coast appearances, many of them aimed at the gay community. He eventually was the opening act for Jimmy Sommerville at the Washington, DC millennium pride celebration.

After half of the tracks for “Lounge” were completed, Easter began to go into the studio less and less. Eventually he confronted Richard, who said that the record reps felt that Easter was relying too much on Richard for his sound. He suggested that Easter put together a live band and start crafting songs with other people, and come back to the studio after a month to see what they could do. Easter recruited Brad Pugh of the band Practically Einstein and worked with the band, eventually writing two new songs. By the time he came back to the studio, however, it seemed that the label’s interest had diminished. A few weeks later Easter received the official forms releasing him from his contract. He would later find out that the label felt it couldn’t market dance or pop music from an openly gay artist who didn’t have a certain “look,” IE: thin. Richard Morel went on to release his own album, “Queen of the Highway,” to mixed reviews; he was also involved in the remixes of Madonna’s “Music” album.

“Mnemosyne’s Lounge” was never released, though the song “Consummate Professional Relationship Destruction Machine” was included on several dance compilations and a CD called “DCide: the 40,” showcasing the top 40 unsigned acts of the East Coast. Easter continued doing live performances in the Washington, DC area including a benefit for AIDS charities with DC musicians Josh Courage and Brandon Finucane (the band called themselves “The Incredibly Twisted Rabbits.”)

Easter continued to pursue theater and acting, appearing in Maryland productions of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Crazy For You.” In 2001 he staged a one man show called “Statistics,” which examined the interpersonal relationships between gay and straight people. The show raised money for The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. He is currently living in New Orleans, LA working on his second album project, called “The Story of the Nail.”

Easter’s web page receives nearly 2,000 hits a day and he has an active fan club on the internet. His MP3.COM site was one of the first to exist with the company and continues to be popular, while his poetry and other writings are acclaimed. In late 2001 he wrote 12 short stories to accompany the songs and photographs of friend Tori Amos’ album “Strange Little Girls.” They would be compiled into a promotional booklet that was given away with the album, and passed around the internet like lightning. Only good things are expected from Easter Bradford, an artist who has come a long way in a short time, and can only come further, faster, but hopefully…soon.

REFERENCES AND CONTACTS:

http://www.mp3.com/easterbradford/ - Music Downloads

http://www.geocities.com/nicestslice/ - Photographs, Poetry, Fan Club, Mailing List

http://www.practicallyeinstein.com/     -Home Page for Practically Einstein

http://www.morelworld.com/                 -Home Page for Richard Morel

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM “THE GAMBIT” MAGAZINE, NEW ORLEANS, JULY 2002

EASTER COMES IN JULY

The Gambit’s Kris Maksum Helps Him Clean Up

You know how us queens can be. We’ve been judged by Earth at large for so long that we think it’s our right, hell, our DUTY to judge everybody else. When New Orleans newcomer Easter Bradford was invited to enter “The Gong Show” contest at OZ last Monday, he had no idea that two twinkie bitches in the front row would boo him off the stage. “I was up there doing my song,” he recalls to me,” and everybody in the club is dancing and screaming and having a good time, and about halfway through the song I hear ‘get your fat fake leather pants wearing ass off stage you heifer!” It seems an 18 year old who was horribly mistaken in thinking that he would win the contest by getting on stage and dancing around in a g-string couldn’t handle being shown-up, and he actually grabbed the gong-baton out of hostess Ms. Bianca Del Rio’s hand and gonged Easter in the middle of his song. The show was brought to a halt, and the pathetic little chicken was pelted with so many plastic cups full of cheap booze that the thing fell to the floor. (Later Bianca slipped Easter his rightfully won $200 and he went on his merry little way.)

Serves the bitch right, too.

I sat down with Easter, actor and singer extraordinaire, in his gorgeous split-level shotgun to talk about the music industry, the responsibility of gay artists to their community, and shopping. (Of course, shopping.)

KM: Welcome to New Orleans, honey! How are you loving it?

EB: The joke I keep telling people is: I came to New Orleans for art and culture, but I guess I’m going to have to settle for Voodoo and liquor. I’m having a blast, though. Everyone here in the South is really warm, even if most of it is bullshit, and I like people who can pretend to be nice and make me believe it.

KM: What’s the gay scene like here compared with D.C.?

EB: Well, in DC it’s a very specific part of town that’s gay. You go there, it’s Dupont Circle, because you want to have a gay ol’ time. In New Orleans, it seems to be gay everywhere. I don’t really spend that much time at the gay bars and clubs here because every corner you turn there’s a pink triangle. I’m still deciding if I like that or not…

KM: Have you had a chance to check out the shopping on Magazine Street?

EB: You know I have. (Laughs.) There is nothing better than a homosexual with money in his pocket surrounded by used book stores and funky boutiques. I tried to avoid the antique shops because the people that run them sort of scare me – something’s wrong with you if you scavenge abandoned houses for old faucet handles and sell them to tourists.

KM: After viewing your website it seems like there’s no branch of the creative world that you haven’t dipped into. Which is your favorite?

EB: 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.

KM: You seem to want to challenge people’s ideas, or play the devil’s advocate and get people thinking about where they stand even when you agree with them.

EB: There is nothing worse to me than someone who has a set opinion on something but hasn’t learned everything they can possibly learn and hasn’t looked at both sides…that’s far worse than just not getting it. There are plenty of people who think differently than me and I boil it down to – you know – they just DON’T get it, never will. But I can forgive them; I can’t forgive voluntary ignorance. I wrote a song called “Scarecrow Song,” which was an angry song directed towards the gay community. Everyone was writing these songs about Matthew Shepard, and I felt that it was unfair to martyr this…okay, yes, horribly victimized young man, but what about everybody else? He was hardly the only brutally attacked young gay man that year. By far the prettiest, though, and the blondest. So in the song, when I say…(singing)”Wasn’t he beautiful? Wasn’t he righteous? Wasn’t he a great way to go out when the soft light dies?” I’m saying, “Well aren’t we so fucking lucky that this pretty young man got brutalized so we can take advantage of the situation and get ourselves some rights.”

KM: You seem to have aligned yourself very closely with women’s rights organizations, even more so than gay ones. Why is that?

EB: I would never trivialize the struggle of gay Americans for equality. I do feel though that other struggles, possibly more important and definitely more desperate, are being ignored by our community. We’re talking about an Afghani woman being slit open by her husband because she passed gas, right? We’re talking about the removal of young African girls’ clitorises. I don’t think I’ve neglected the gay community, quite the opposite frankly. I just haven’t made it my primary focus.

KM: Don’t you feel that as a gay man you have some sort of obligation to the gay community?

EB: That’s such an annoyingly vague question. Don’t take that personally, gay publications ask it all the time. But what does that mean? An obligation to do what? I think that I am out there, and I’m gay. I think that by my example of simply BEING who I am and not being ashamed or lying, I have fulfilled my obligation, if in fact one exists. I think that the worst thing prominent gay people do, celebrities or whomever, is not tell the truth. There is so much fooling of one’s self in this community. The concept that, okay, if I don’t SAY that I’m gay and let people assume that I’m straight, I’m not lying. Oh bullshit. If you allow someone to think something that you know isn’t true, you’re a liar, and I’m going to call you out on it.

KM: So you don’t think people should be allowed to make that decision for themselves?

EB: Please. I’m not sitting here outing celebrities. But I will not respect you if you know that by saying something true you could help people, and yet you choose not to do it anyways. I cannot respect that. I will not.

KM: Why exactly is it that your album was never released? (Easter’s album, “Mnemosyne’s Lounge,” was shelved by Sony Music and he was dismissed from his contract.)

EB: I can give you the polite business exec answer which is that they felt the music was “not satisfactory for commercial release.” That’s just jargon for “you’re too fat.” It was all such stupidity. My producer did dance music, and I did rock and alternative, and the first song we did blew them away. Then the rest of the songs we did didn’t sound exactly like that song, and they freaked out. I wasn’t a gear in the music machine. Then they realized that I was being marketed as openly gay, and they looked at my photos and saw I wasn’t 18, 6’ tall and 115 pounds, and didn’t think that people could take a gay, heavyset dance music artist. So they ditched me.

KM: Based on what you have available on the net, I would buy that album.

EB: Yeah. Well. Yeah. (He lets out a sardonic laugh.) Where were you in 1999? It’s okay though. He went and released an album of his own music, which is what I think he really wanted to do all the long, and based on today’s commercial standards, it bombed miserably. So…

KM: What does the future hold for your career? You seem to have gotten a colossal amount of attention for an unsigned artist.

EB: Well. All right. Can we just be legitimate for a minute? Strip away the fucking conversational blowjobs and say the truth? The truth is, I think I’ve got something that nobody else has. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s something fantastic. It was put out there for a little while, and then it was snapped back by the people in charge. People got pissed. Some big names got interested and now they want to help. It’s fantastic. I appreciate it. But I’m not going to be, you know, a big tit-shaking blonde girl with a snake. I’m not out there sucking Nathan Lane’s cock for a record deal. So I might never quote-unquote “make it.” But I’m going to do things my way, and if I end up singing in hotel lounges for the rest of my life, you better believe they’re gonna be the hippest hotel lounges on the continent.

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James Warnock

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