“This world is not our home. We’re just passing through.” Charles Bradley, tears streaming down his face, said this to an emotionally enraptured Royce Hall audience Thursday night. The words came after Bradley’s heartfelt imploring of everyone in sight to choose love as a religion.
And indeed, from the moment the man took the stage the whole evening felt a bit like church. And if love is Bradley’s religion, it’s clear from every word and gesture to the audience Thursday night, he practices what he preaches.
It was unlike anything I’ve witnessed in Royce Hall to date and it was a beautiful thing. The crowd was on its feet for his entire set. Hands reached for him as he performed and continued to after he departed the stage.
It was revelatory, and joyful, even as Bradley shared his stories of struggle and hardship.
Bradley began his set with a song he wrote about his brother’s death, called “Heartaches and Pain.”
It made me think about life and how it is full of both heartaches and pain…and also joy. If we’re lucky there’s more of the latter and the the former doesn’t spiral us into despair.
It also made me think of another revelatory artist who passed through our lives recently–Austin Peralta. He’s been on my mind since the shocking news of his death last week at just 22 years old.
Members of the local music community who knew and loved this astonishing young talent well have been rocked by heartache and pain this week, at the same time they remember the great joy that Austin and his profound ability brought to the lives of his friends and fans of his music.
Today at 1 p.m. Austin’s friends and family are gathering for an open memorial service at Crossroads School in Santa Monica. His parents have asked that it be a moment of joy, requesting that musicians bring their instruments, that friends bring stories and laughter and that attendees eschew dark and dour colors in favor of Austin’s favorite color of orange.
It’s hard to celebrate while wading through heartaches and pain, but it’s also really the only way to pass through this life without succumbing to despair.
Charles Bradley learned that throughout his difficult life and is focused on joy and love and deep gratitude despite the struggles he has endured.
Last month Austin Peralta brought us great joy as he lit up the Royce Hall stage. He talked about how thrilled and grateful he was to perform here, and sharing a bill with Taylor McFerrin, who he introduced as “his brother.” He delighted fans who already knew his work and impressed people who hadn’t yet heard of him.
Austin left us last week, leaving behind heartaches and pain.
Thursday night, Charles Bradley shared his own tales of heartaches and pain, and yet also managed to leave those in attendance with a sense of abounding joy for life.
And perhaps that’s as it should be, since we’re all just passing through.
We’re grateful that both of these artists passed through our lives recently.
Rest in peace Austin and thank you Charles.