Sumter band rocks the Apollo Theater

BY IVY MOORE
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 4/2/19

The Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, has been the vehicle to musical stardom for some of the best known musicians in the country. For Elijah Bradford and the Valentinos, performing on the Apollo stage was "more than a dream come true," Bradford …

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Sumter band rocks the Apollo Theater

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The Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, has been the vehicle to musical stardom for some of the best known musicians in the country. For Elijah Bradford and the Valentinos, performing on the Apollo stage was "more than a dream come true," Bradford said recently.

"We auditioned for 'Showtime at the Apollo' in Alabama in September last year," he said, "and got an immediate callback."

That gave the eight-member band six months to get ready for their first performance at the legendary venue. Comprising Van Smith, Arsenio Bradford and Matthew Rufus on vocals, Duron Alexander on keyboards and vocals, Te'Shaun Alexander on bass, Quintin Johnson on lead guitar, Rodiguez Green on drums and Elijah Bradford on lead vocals, the group is well known in Sumter for its rocking gospel sound.

For their first Apollo performance on March 6, Elijah Bradford said, "We sang the old gospel song 'The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow' by Thomas A. Dorsey. That got us called back for the second round."

The band followed up for their second performance on March 13, this time singing an original piece titled "Jesus Rolled the Stone," based on the Temptations' "Papa was a Rolling Stone." Bradford wrote the lyrics and arranged the song, adding the Isley Brothers' "Shout" at the end.

The group is also known for its original choreography, reminiscent of the Temptations and other popular bands of the 1960s and '70s. Competing against 100 other performers, Bradford and the Valentinos finished in the top three.

Although they did not move on to the third round, Bradford said, "They have spoken to us about playing a full concert - just the Valentinos. We plan to do it."

He said that, in addition to their callbacks, "It was a great networking experience. A lot of talent scouts and agents talked to us." The band also received a check from the Apollo for their well-received performances.

The most exciting part for Bradford, he said, was "performing on the stage where James Brown, the Temptations and so many other legends performed." Among them were jazz, swing, gospel, R&B, soul, blues artists such as Sarah Vaughn, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and many others.

Sumter area music lovers can see and hear Elijah Bradford and the Valentinos live during the Sumter Iris Festival. They will open the festival by performing during the Taste at the Gardens at Swan Lake-Iris Gardens on Thursday, May 23. They'll also be the featured group at the city of Sumter's Fourth Fridays Concert Series on Main Street on June 28.

You can see part of the Valentinos' Apollo Theater performance and several others online on YouTube - just go to the website https://bit.ly/2HMGxkB.

For more information or to book Elijah Bradford and the Valentinos call (803) 216-1773 or visit www.elijahbradford.com. There are also several taped performances and information on Facebook.