|Birth||26 May 1988|
Carmen Jane "Cami" Bradley (born May 26, 1988) is an American singer, songwriter and pianist from Spokane, Washington. Bradley self-released solo albums in 2009 and 2013; she gained fame later in 2013 as a contestant on season eight of America's Got Talent. She advanced to the show's finals, finishing in sixth place.
The following year, Bradley joined Huntsville, Alabama, singer-songwriter Whitney Dean to form the Sweeplings. Their debut album, Rise & Fall, was released on their own label in 2015.
Cami Bradey was born into a musical family. Her father, Paul Miller, was the worship leader at the family's church; he was practicing vocal scales in the car while on the way to perform services one day when four-year-old Cami started singing along. Her mother, Amy Miller, said that was when they knew she had both singing talent and an ear for music.
Her parents soon were providing piano lessons for Cami. She began writing songs by age ten, though Bradley later called them "just terrible, but you have to start somewhere." Her early style was influenced by a wide range of music, "from Natalie Cole to Christina Aguilera to Disney soundtracks." She began performing her songs during her teen years; people responded by suggesting she try out for televised singing competitions like The Voice, but she declined because she didn't find the idea to be appealing.
Her first album, Anomalous, was released in 2009 when Bradley was 21 years old. She was happy with the album, but later said it didn't really represent who she was.
2013: Seas and America's Got Talent
Bradley self-released her sophomore album Seas in May 2013, featuring her husband Eric on drums. A Kickstarter campaign in April to fund the album's release concert raised nearly $4,000. Seas comprises seven songs including "This Ocean", a duet with younger brother Ryan Miller, one-half of the indie duo the Rustics. For this album, Bradley said she wrote emotional stories based on the experiences of people close to her. "I’m an emotional person, and that’s a picture of what I see other people feeling."
Early in 2013, Bradley got a telephone call from a scout with America's Got Talent suggesting that she send a video. The show's producers then sent her to Chicago to audition for the variety show. Her performance, an a cappella version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", was enough for the judges to put her through to the Las Vegas round, where she advanced to the live shows.
At the quarterfinals, Bradley accompanied herself on piano in a stripped-down performance of "Believe". Judge Mel B praised the "brave" arrangement and suggested that Cher might consider a similar approach. Howard Stern agreed with the assessment, and said it was like hearing the lyrics and their meaning for the first time. Howie Mandel said Bradley had a "haunting" style and a "star quality ... that could possibly take her all the way." Her mother said she was happy that Bradley got her time to shine after she had barely appeared in any previous episodes.
Bradley continued into the finals of the competition with rearranged versions of pop songs, including "Can't Help Falling in Love" and "Livin' on a Prayer". People praised her voice; it "pulls you in as she takes on classic songs and makes them her own." She finished in sixth place, happy and newly confident. "I'd never been a fame-seeker. But I thought this was a good way to get out of my comfort zone."
After America's Got Talent wrapped, Bradley joined fellow finalists on a two-month tour. She appeared on FORTE's debut album as the featured guest on "The Prayer", and performed the song live with FORTE at Carnegie Hall.
2014–present: The Sweeplings
Singer-songwriter Whitney Dean was working on his music while at home in Huntsville, Alabama, when his wife suggested instead that they watch a Bradley performance on America's Got Talent. Afterward, Bethany Dean said her husband and Bradley should write music together. Bradley declined on first contact, but Bethany Dean persisted and the two musicians began collaborating via Skype a few months later. Eventually, the Deans were invited by the Bradleys to visit their home in Spokane, Washington, and the meeting went well. "It should be awkward the first time around, but I felt really at home with the two of them," Bradley said. Within their first weekend, Cami Bradley and Whitney Dean had written eight songs together.
The new duo did not do much publicly to begin with, because Bradley did not want her fans to be confused if the pairing did not work out. Instead, she released videos of cover songs as a solo artist so people would not forget about her. At the same time, Bradley wanted to make certain that she and Dean were not to be considered a romantic couple.
In August 2015, the Sweeplings released their debut album, Rise & Fall, on their own label. NPR had premiered the song "Carry Me Home" the month before, and iTunes later placed the song on its list of the 25 best singer-songwriter tracks of 2015. Two other songs, "In Too Deep" and "Snow May Be Falling", were used in promotional videos. Billboard premiered the video for "Under Your Spell" in February 2016.
iTunes' staff said the Sweeplings' music reveals "a penchant for haunting, tender harmonies and a roots-inspired sound that bears similarities to The Civil Wars." PopDust called Rise & Fall "a potent collection of narratives with gut-wrenching textures built on a foundation of powerful harmonies and sharp musicianship." Elmore Magazine said the album's songs tend to "blend together because of similar sounds, but the chemistry is concise and makes the album whole, not all over the place like many debuts seem to be."
Eric and Cami Bradley were married on August 25, 2006. They live in Spokane, and work at her father's church there. The Bradleys bought a small second home in Huntsville, Alabama, to facilitate her career with the Sweeplings. Cami Bradley is also a professional photographer.
- As a solo artist
- Unhinged (EP, 2009)
- Anomalous (2009)
- Seas (2013)
- With the Sweeplings
- The Sweeplings (EP, 2014)
- Rise & Fall (2015)