Born: 1941 | Died: August 19, 2008 Primary Instrument: Vocalist
Clea Bradford, 67, a versatile jazz singer who toured the Soviet Union with Earl Fatha Hines and recorded with Clark Terry in the 1960s, died Aug. 19 of complications from breast cancer at Holy Cross Hospital. She lived in Silver Spring.
Ms. Bradford, who settled into a second career as a voice coach in the Washington area after two decades of touring, was not a big star but a huge twinkle, as she once joked to The Washington Post, and was a favorite of critics. She performed locally in the 1970s and '80s, and reviewers found her compelling, noting her range, versatility and hornlike phrasing.
Clea Bradford has been compared to other vocalists but the equation fails on two counts, former Washington Post critic W. Royal Stokes wrote. One, despite surface similarities, she is not an imitation. Two, attentive listening reveals that her craft derives from horn players rather than singers.
Critics commented on her striking looks as well as her vocal expertise. She was almost 6 feet tall with high cheekbones and long straight hair, characteristics that she attributed to her mixture of Choctaw Indian and Ethiopian ancestry.