Introduction to Jan Bradley
Jan Bradley is an American soul singer-songwriter who is best known for her 1963 hit R&B single “Mama Didn’t Lie.” Bradley’s single “Mama Didn’t Lie,” written by Curtis Mayfield, became a hit on both R&B and pop charts in 1963. Mayfield had also written one of Bradley’s earlier songs “We Girls.” Not long after “Mama Didn’t Lie”‘s success, Mayfield and Chess was in a bitter battle that left Bradley unable to collaborate any longer with Mayfield. So she started writing her own material, among them another charting single “I’m Over You” in 1965. Bradley continued to churn out record after record without achieving any success. She quit professional singing in the early 1970s to become a social worker.
How did Jan Bradley get into the music business?
R&B and pop singer Jan Bradley’s birth name is Addie Bradley. She was born in Byhalia, Mississippi on July 6, 1943 but later grew up in Robbins, Illinois.
When Bradley was 18, she was spotted by Don Talty (manager of guitarist Phil Upchurch) and was offered to sign to his label Formal Records. After Bradley’s graduation and getting the consent from her parents, she went on to an audition for Curtis Mayfield, in which she eventually passed. Mayfield wrote a tune for the young singer, “We Girls,” which was released on Talty’s record label named Formal. became a regional hit around Chicago and nearby areas.
Jan Bradley’s biggest hit, “Mama Didn’t Lie”
Bradley then released another Mayfield-penned single, this time i was “Mama Didn’t Lie” (b/w “Lovers Like Me”), which was graced by Bradley’s soft soprano. It is said that in this record (as well as Bradley’s other releases) that she did her own backing vocals, an act which was very much unusual during that era. It was picked up by a larger, more stable label Chess Records for national distribution. It became a Top 10 R&B hit (at #8) and Billboard Hot 100’s top 40 chart hit (at #14) in 1963.
Curtis Mayfield and Chess’ dispute, and Bradley’s later career
Not long after “Mama Didn’t Lie” became big on the charts, a bitter dispute ensued between Mayfield and Chess who over publishing rights to Bradley’s songs — when the battle was settled, she was no longer able to collaborate with Mayfield. So she started to write her own songs (or some sources say that Chess staff writers created songs for her), and released a few more singles on Chess. These included her last charting single “I’m Over You,” which was a minor hit on the Hot 100 (at #93) and R&B singles chart (at #24) in 1965.
Continuing to work with her manager Don Tatly, Bradley went on to release record after record under several labels, without much success. In the early 70s, she retired from showbusiness, raised her own family, and became a social worker. She moved on to become a counselor, but she still enjoys singing and writing songs (mostly for her church).
Among Bradley’s other singles released during her peak years of recording with Chess are “Just a Summer Memory,” “It’s Just Your Way,” and “These Tears.”