Guide to the Richard Becker Collection of Alex Bradford Gospel Music Materials

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0761
Creators:
Becker, Richard
Bradford, Alex
Dates:
1950-1997,
undated
Languages:
English
Collection is in English.
Physical Description:
0.25 cubic feet
2 boxes
Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Papers relating to Alex Bradford's career as a composer of Gospel music. Included among the materials are playbills, published sheet music, music manuscripts, gospel song books, play scripts, newspaper clippings and articles, and one LP record.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection documents the career of Alex Bradford as a composer of gospel music. Most of these materials relate to the musical production Your Arms Too Short to Box with God including playbills and an LP. There is a small amount of music manuscripts and published sheet music of songs written by Bradford. His music is also included in three Gospel song books that form part of this collection. In addition, there is one folder of playscripts for some of Bradford's other musical productions. Biographical information about Bradford and the importance of his work to the African American community is found in the newspaper clippings and articles in the collection. There are playbills from the League of New York Theatres and Producers Antoinette Perry Award (Tony Awards) ceremonies. The materials are arranged in chronological order.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into one series.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Alex Bradford was a musical and theater legend who served as a bridge between the gospel and secular worlds in music and performance. Bradford was responsible for the rise and popularity of the mass gospel choir. Alex Bradford was born in Bessemer, Alabama in the late 1920s during an era of racial segregation. A racially-motivated altercation eventually led his mother to send him to New York. Before he left Alabama, Bradford performed on stage and sang in various children's choirs. Bradford was a talented and influential gospel singer, performer, song writer, and stage play author. Richard Becker, an accomplished music producer, worked with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Becker's first collaboration with Bradford resulted in their production of Black Nativity, based on a play by Langston Hughes. Commissioned to do a second stage musical, the two created Your Arms Too Short to Box With God, based on the Biblical book of Matthew. Your Arms was the first musical production fully funded at the Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC. The musical made its debut on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre, on December 22, 1976. The original cast included Al Green, Patti LaBelle, and newcomer Jennifer Holliday.

Administration
Processing Information
Collection processed by Vanessa Broussard-Simmons, 2015.
Author
Doretha K. Williams and Vanessa Broussard-Simmons
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Richard Becker donated the materials to the Museum in January 2001

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Richard Becker Collection of Alex Bradford Gospel Music Materials, 1950-1997, undated Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Reproduction restricted due to copyright or trademark.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Sheet music -- 20th century Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Songbooks Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings -- 1930-1990 Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Theater programs -- 1970-1980 Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Parts (musical) Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Playbills Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Programs Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scripts (documents) Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Clippings -- 20th century Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gospel music Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Music -- Manuscripts Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
URL: