Carmen Bradford has accomplished a great deal in her career yet fame has largely eluded her despite her talents. The daughter of singer Melba Joyce and the innovative trumpeter Bobby Bradford, she grew up in Altadena, CA. Bradford attended Huston-Tillotson College in Austin, TX but dropped out when she was offered the job of singer with Count Basie. She was with the Count Basie Orchestra during 1982-1990. Although she never had the chance to record with Basie, who passed away in 1984, Bradford appears on a few records with the Basie band when it was led by Frank Foster.
Since leaving the Basie band, Bradford has been involved in a wide variety of musical activities. She guested on recordings by George Benson (sharing the vocal with Benson on "How Do You Keep the Music Playing"), Dori Caymmi, and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, she toured Europe with the David Murray Big Band (2000), performed the songs of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn with flutist James Newton, sang in concerts with the Doc Severinsen Orchestra, and is a vocal jazz professor at USC. In addition, Bradford has recorded a CD apiece for Amazing (1992), Evidence (1995), and a set of duets with pianist Shelly Berg for Azica.