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Singer James Bradley, who lost son (8) in collision, now getting his life back in tune

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James Bradley

James Bradley

James with Daniel

James with Daniel

Daniel Bradley

Daniel Bradley

The cover of the new single to be released on Monday

The cover of the new single to be released on Monday

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James Bradley

Eight seconds was all it took to change James Bradley's life forever.

The singer-songwriter from Maghera was on top of the world in November 2018, his first album just released to acclaim.

But a tragic accident resulted in the death of his autistic son Daniel, knocked down at a petrol station on the Glenshane Road, and his world crumbled.

"That's all it took, eight seconds for Daniel to go from being safe with his family to being hit by a car. I know I will find it difficult for the rest of my life," James told the Belfast Telegraph as he prepares to release his first new recording since Daniel's death.

"Music was everything to Daniel. He would sing all day, sit with me while I played guitar. It was something we always did together.

"Before all this happened, I was always one to be positive about life.

"There are times when you think you can never be positive again.

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"It was in June last year before I could think about music again. I'd written bits and pieces but not picked up a guitar. It was difficult, but once I started it was a lovely world to be back in.

"I've rediscovered why I gave up my job as a manager at Tesco in Cookstown several years ago.

"I started teaching music to children with special needs and found it so worthwhile. I suppose, when I lost Daniel from my life and coped with all the upheaval and change that goes with such a traumatic life event, I lost that positive part of me. I've found it again."

The memory of his eight-year-old son does play a big part in the new album.

"Of course the writing is shaped by experience and when it comes out, hopefully on July 3, there will be a couple of songs with a special personal relevance," James said.

The song Pictures is about looking at old photographs and remembering happy times, while Sing Again is based on a poem read at Daniel's funeral.

"Pictures came so naturally to me last January, it only took 10 minutes to write, but my mother Helen told me it was about time I started writing happy songs, and a south Derry boy has to listen to his mummy!"

The first single from the album, Calm After The Storm, will be available from Monday on all the usual streaming and download sites.

"I've got back to being the more positive person I used to be," he added.

"That's why this is the first song I'm putting out there. No matter what trials you experience in life, you come out the other side and find that place of calm and peace. I suppose it has a lot of relevance given what's going on in the world around us today."

While plans for an album launch night are on hold, James still wants to make his new tracks available from early July.

"That's still the plan. The album's called Back To Being Me and I guess that sums up where I'm at right now. I'm in a happier place than I have been for some time, despite the fact we're all in lockdown and can't get out to perform," he explained.

"As musicians, we're always out and about, sharing good music and fun times, so this is a strange time for us all. But the music industry I know is full of wonderful people. It's a beautiful place to be in right now, so much support for each other as we're all in the same place - at home!

"We're all sharing music and ideas, playing songs for each other online and using the time to be creative, so there you go, I'm being positive again.

"I'll probably come away from this period a slightly different person again, with a new perspective and new songs I'd otherwise never have written."

While the memory of Daniel is never too far from his mind, it has inspired James's return to music and he is using it as a springboard to happier times ahead.

"That's where I'm at now. I finally feel like I'm back to being me," he said.


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