Ed Bradley, Pathbreaking Journalist and Voice of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Dies at 65

Classic Arts News   Ed Bradley, Pathbreaking Journalist and Voice of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Dies at 65
Veteran CBS journalist Ed Bradley, who was also the longtime radio announcer for Jazz at Lincoln Center, died yesterday at age 65 of complications from leukemia, CBS News announced

Bradley was one of the first prominent African-American broadcasters and a longtime correspondent for CBS's popular 60 Minutes program, which he joined in 1981. His reports won 11 Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the Paul White Award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association.

His last report for the show was a major interview with suspects and witnesses involved in the alleged rape case involving the Duke University lacrosse team.

During his career, Bradley interviewed such personalities as Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson, Muhammad Ali and Timothy McVeigh. His television portrait of jazz legend Lena Horne — which alternated Horne's performances with his interview — won Bradley his first Emmy.

Bradley was born on June 22, 1941 and grew up working class in Philadelphia. He earned an education degree in 1964 from Cheyney State College then took a job teaching sixth grade. A jazz buff, Bradley also worked as a jazz disc jockey at night, making $1.50 an hour spinning the records of John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Billie Holiday.

In an interview conducted in 2004, the website All About Jazz quotes Bradley as saying that it was "Teach Me Tonight," from Errol Garner's Concert by the Sea. that turned him onto jazz.

"I've been around jazz all my life," Bradley said. "But up to a certain point I regarded it as my father's music and my uncle's music, because they all played it and it was what they liked. But it wasn't my music."

The Garner album, which he heard at 15, was his "Rosetta stone. Because I never got jazz. It was something the generation ahead of me listened to. It wasn't my music. I didn't understand it. Then all of a sudden I heard Concert by the Sea. Particularly 'Teach Me Tonight.' All of sudden it made sense to me."

Both for financial reasons and to indulge his wanderlust, Bradley decided to focus on becoming a journalist. He was hired by CBS News as a stringer in 1971 and sent to Saigon during the Vietnam War; he was wounded during an assignment in adjacent Cambodia.

Bradley joined Jazz at Lincoln Center in 1991, where served as the host of the organization's radio broadcasts.

Wynton Marsalis, artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, said in a statement, "Ed Bradley was a great American, one of our definitive cultural figures, a man of unsurpassed curiosity, intelligence, dignity and heart. We of course are shocked and experiencing that unspeakable grief that always attends the finality of the death of a loved one. We have lost a trusted friend and mentor. Our nation has lost a voice of integrity and wisdom. We love him and miss him and it will always be that way."

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