HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The road to making it in the music world can be tough. East Limestone's Bradley Walker has always been up for a challenge. And nothing is going to stand in his way of achieving his dream.
“I started singing before I could hardly talk good,” Bradley told me with a smile. “singing Elvira and Why Me?” He was three.
A few years later, he was a guest on TNN's Nashville Now with the Oak Ridge Boys. “That’s a pretty cool experience for anybody,” he remembers. “Much less a 10 year old kid.”
That one moment in the stage spotlight was all he needed. “It's what put the fire in me,” he said. It also led to several appearances on the national Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon. “We're blessed to be a part of that,” Bradley added.
Those blessings continued to grow. “When I was growing up, CMA and ACM night were like holidays at my house,” he said laughing. And you can’t talk country music without talking about the Grand Ole Opry. “The circle is the coolest place in the world,” he said. That’s center stage at the Opry.
And he has been in that spot several times. “I have to put all the history out of my mind until after I've sang because if I let it get to me before hand, I'll be a bucket of nerves,” he said. But he’ll never forget what his aunt told him the first time he made it there. “She said you need to slip your foot off or your chair and plant your foot on the circle,” he recalls. And he did.
Bradley was on that same stage in 2007 accepting the International Bluegrass Music Association Male Vocalist of the Year award. “It was just a dream come true,” he said. “Huge honor. Huge honor.” That was a year after getting a deal with Rounder Records and producer Carl Jackson getting him in the studio to record his first album, “Highway of Dreams.”
But his biggest blessing was still to come. He became friends with Joey and Rory Feek. When Joey died of cancer in March of 2016, Rory called Bradley. “I was just anxious to get to talk to him and tell him that I loved him and that I was so sorry,” he remembers. “And just let him know I was there for him and thinking about him and praying for him.”
Rory had a request from Joey. “He told me they were going to have a private service for Joey and asked if I would sing the song “Leave it There” at the gravesite,” Bradley told me. Bill Gaither and his wife were there and heard Bradley sing. “I was just trying to get through the day and honor Joey and do the best I could,” he said. “Never thinking in a million years that what has transpired since then would happen.”
In a matter of weeks, Rory had Bradley in the studio recording a new project for Gaither Music Group. “Call Me Old-Fashioned” was released in September of last year. “It debuted at number 9 on the country charts,” he said. “And I'm thinking to myself that means I've got a top ten country record. What?”
I asked him what’s next. “If there's one thing I've learned over the past couple of years, it's to just follow the good Lord's lead,” he said. That led to the release of a new project of songs Bradley grew up singing in church. “Blessed: Hymns and Songs of Faith” is his latest release. Bradley gives all the credit to God. “It's just Him leading and opening up doors and blessing my life,” he said. “I don't know what's next but I'm just going to hang on and enjoy the ride.”
You can find Bradley’s music on his website, bradleywalker.com or at any Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. One final note, Bradley was recently nominated for three Dove Awards. One of them was for his album, “Call me Old-Fashioned.” He didn’t win but the loss for Album of the Year wasn’t that hard to take. Reba McEntire won. Not many people can say they lost to Reba.