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
undated
Languages:
English
.
Physical Description:
0.66 Cubic feet
2 boxes
Repository:
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
Collection documents the career of Alex Bradford as a composer of gospel music. Most of the materials relate to the musical production Your Arms Too Short to Box with God and include playbills and an LP. There are music manuscripts, published sheet music, and three Gospel song books of Bradford's music. In addition, there are playscripts for some of Bradford's other musical productions. Newspaper clippings and magazine articles document the importance of Bradford's creative work to the African American community. Lastly, playbills from the League of New York Theatres and Producers Antoinette Perry Award (Tony Awards) ceremonies are also found among the materials. 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
Author
Doretha K. Williams, program manager and Vanessa Broussard-Simmons, supervisory archivist
Sponsor
Processing and encoding funded by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Richard Becker donated the materials to the Archives Center, National Museum of American History in January 2001.
Processing Information
Collection processed by Vanessa Broussard-Simmons, archivist, 2015.

Using the Collection
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.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Preferred Citation
Richard Becker Collection of Alex Bradford Gospel Music Materials, 1950-1997, undated Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Related Materials
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Eugene D. Smallwood Gospel Music Collection NMAH.AC.0456
Martin and Morris Company Records NMAH.AC.0492
Wade in the Water Radio Series Collection NMAH.AC.0516
Program in African American Culture NMAH.AC.0408
Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music, Series 36: Folios and Songbooks NMAH.AC.0300
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Series: Music NMAH.AC.0060
Duke Ellington Collection NMAH.AC.0301

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 Topical 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
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives