John Henry Bradford was a vaudeville performer who did a song-and-dance act with Jeanette Taylor.
Bradford was born in 1895 in Montgomery, Alabama and was the son of Adam Bradford and Bella (maiden name unknown), a cook.
During Bradford’s early years, he learned to play the piano by ear. In 1901, he along with his family moved to Atlanta where he often visited the black district on Decatur Street. He learned to sing and dance while watching other black entertainers.
By 1906, Bradford had joined the Allen’s New Orleans Minstrels where he worked as a solo pianist in Chicago.
During the early 1900’s until 1918, he performed a song-and-dance act with Jeanette Taylor, calling themselves Bradford and Jeanette. A shrewd entrepreneur, he initially published his songs as sheet music, to be sold after his performances.
By 1918, Bradford was living in New York City and began selling songs to white publishers. The same year, he along with other actors produced the Made in Harlem Revue which featured singer Mamie Smith.
In 1923, needing to do something exceptional to put his career back on track, Bradford assembled a Jazz band with greats such as Louis Armstrong, James P Johnson, and Buster Bailey.