John Michael Bradford is a trumpeter, singer, bandleader, composer, arranger and educator whose passion for music has been sculpted by the spirit, sounds, and fate of his hometown, New Orleans.
At eight years old, John Michael and his family were forced to evacuate as Hurricane Katrina swept through the city. It was during these several months, spent with family friend and talented trombonist Sam Williams of Big Sam’s Funky Nation, that John Michael fell in love with music. “My story can never be separated from that storm because it’s where my heart was set on fire to play music as a career.”
In the years that followed the storm John Michael became a dedicated and passionate student of the trumpet, honing his talent with mentors like Donald Harrison and Nicholas Payton. Bradford went on to study Performance at Berklee College of Music, where he studied under Sean Jones and Tia Fuller. During this time Bradford recorded his debut album "Something Old, Something New," which features artists such as Chris Severin, Donald Harrison, Joe Dyson, Rickie Monie, Benny Jones, Sam Williams, Detroit Brooks and others, paying homage to the city of New Orleans. His album was nominated for best contemporary jazz album by OffBeat Magazine in 2017.
John Michael has been mentored by and performed professionally with many renowned artists including Jon Batiste, Herbie Hancock, Leo Nocentelli, Leslie Odom Jr., Harry Connick, Dumpstaphunk . His discography includes recordings with the likes of Donald Harrison, Sam Williams of Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Rickie Monie of Preservation Hall, and Leo Nocentelli of the Funky Meters. He has headlined in performance halls across the world from The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to The Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Some of Bradford’s accomplishments include.
Drawing on the tradition of Black American Music, John Michael moves effortlessly through jazz, blues, funk, hip-hop, soul, and New Orleans traditional music. His body of work, in both performance and composition, showcases his expert ability to channel and mold the sounds of his many esteemed mentors.
John Michael has since returned to New Orleans where he is working towards a Masters in Performance of Black American Music at Tulane University. Following in the footsteps of his earliest mentors, Bradford is helping to craft the sounds of young musicians, teaching music at his alma maters The New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage School. Bradford recognizes the value and joy in contributing to the community of musicians that raised him. Though John Michael’s performance and composition traverses various genres and styles, all of his work is deeply rooted in the identity of his hometown, New Orleans.