Family’s Love Of Music Basis For Singer’s Success
By Lauren McFaul // April 20, 2012
BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA BEACH, FLORIDA – Thawing out from her winter performances at the Gaylord Palms Hotel’s frozen, techno-rock holiday show, Central Florida songstress and Brevard County’s own Naome Ladd Bradshaw is ready for spring.
And the forecast is mayhem.
That’s Ms. Mayhem to you, as Naome and her four female bandmates appeared together for a show last month at the Central Florida Fairgrounds in Orlando.
As a familiar name on the Brevard County music scene, Naome has performed freelance, and for many top talent agencies, such as Metropolis Productions in Orlando.
Besides performing with Ms. Mayhem, Naome also sings at weddings with the award-winning, group The Buzzcatz, at conventions with Skyline 407 and plays gigs at Rusty’s in Port Canaveral and Coconuts in Cocoa Beach with Dave Kury.
Her spring schedule is dotted with appearances including flying to Dallas for a week-long show with Brother Entertainment, performing twice at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino with Joey Julia and singing the national anthem at a convention at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee.
She said she’s been friends with Metropolis owners Richie and Lisa Compton for more than 20 years. And while the Ms. Mayhem band is not entirely the Comptons’ brainchild, Metropolis provides the glue of promotions and rehearsal space that helps hold the five-woman Ms. Mayhem band together.
Over the years, Naome also has worked with the wizard of Walker Studios, Guy Walker. His production facility took Jive Record’s “’Black and Blue” platinum in 2000.
For live sets, you’ll find Naome typically performing among the usual Space Coast musical suspects, including Derek and the Slammers and with Kury.
If she does nothing else in life, Naome is immortal on YouTube, with her voice found in endless fan compilations of The Simpsons’ Party Posse dubs. Her hypnotic line, ‘Yvan Eth Nioj’ is from a 2000 episode of the animated series, starring N’SYNC.
Their song, “Drop da Bomb” is a war satire with enough of a bite to have gotten the episode banned from TV syndication a couple of times. (Her line is actually “Join the Navy” sung backwards).
The band Ms. Mayhem evolved from the former Girl Power band and Naome has known bandmates Toni Williams, Carol Hensal, Jules Larsen and Karen Toledo for years as well.
“We’re calling it a lady band. We’re not 20-year-olds,” Naome laughs. “To me that’s the exciting thing. We are not some central casting idea of a band, where they just pick people out and say, ‘Here, learn how play this instrument’. At 40-something, suddenly we found ourselves in this situation. We are all experienced. We looked at each other and said, ‘Hey, this is a great idea.’ I love classic rock. I like strong women, regardless of the era.”
It’s no surprise their set list includes hits by women with big voices, such as Bonnie Raitt, Pat Benatar, Amy Winehouse and Melissa Etheridge.
“Women vocalists really came into their own from the 1970s forward,” Naome said. “Before that, many female vocalists were a kind of window dressing for bands. As time went on, it changed.
“Beginning with the 70s, women were allowed more aggression and sexuality in music. They became strong and confident, just like the guys,” she said. That’s fun.”
The guys are covered in Ms. Mayhem’s set list as well, as Naome belts out hits by Bon Jovi, Journey and the Rolling Stones.
Any given performance may also include songs written by Naome, as she has some six-or-seven tunes that she’s recorded in the past.
“Creativity is definitely emotional for me,” she said. “It’s almost like it’s channeled from a higher power. I’ve done exercises to improve my creative ability, but they’ve never resulted in anything like what came from within.”
She said that sometimes she feels that a tune is “almost like something that came from above, sometimes in its entirety.” At other times, she said, “I carry pieces (of a tune) around for months until it begins to come together.”
That’s her life, and a melody runs through it.
She said her first time singing in public was a rendition of “White Christmas” in 4th grade prior to a performance of “the Nutcracker.”
Naome began to take music seriously while attending Central Junior High School in Melbourne, performing in chorus and ensemble there.
“That’s where I fell in love with music,” Naome said. “My teacher, Ree Pittenger Nathan, inspired me and believed in me and taught me how to harmonize. I still love doing that.”
Her first time singing onstage in Brevard was at the old Plums Lounge in the Cocoa Beach Holiday Inn.
“Little Red and the Boogie Men were hosting a talent show and I won the $50 prize,” she said. “I later won $1,000 in a contest at Johnny’s Hideaway in Melbourne and was backed up by my future band, “Signals.” After that big haul, I went pro.”
Her first band was called “Aces Wild” and they played a country set at the Straw Hat Club in Cape Canaveral. She went on to appear as a vocalist for other Brevard bands like “Signals,” “Hip 2 Hip,” “Boom-a-rang” and for a while had she played in a duo with Tonya Foyd.
The love for music can be found in her family tree.
“My grandmother, mother and brother were singers,” Naome said. My grandmother was from the Boston area and served up vocals con brio as headline singer of ‘Four Jacks and a Jill.’”
Brother Damond Jiniya sang with the group Savatage, which has members in Trans Siberean Orchestra.
Her mother was a vocalist too, although her career was not always harmonious with family life.
“I had a pretty fragmented childhood,” Naome said. “My mom lost custody of me and eventually I was put in foster care in Brevard.”
She says of her young self, “that was some crazy teenager. I was really fortunate to find a home in Rockledge with the Warren family. If it weren’t for Sandy Warren I wouldn’t be talking to you today. She invested her heart in me, and it worked.”
It worked well enough for Naome and future husband, Jack Bradshaw, to marry and settle in Satellite Beach.
“He really wanted to try to get a spot as an intern on The Phillips Phile talk radio show in Orlando,” she said. “So he wrote a letter to Jim Phillips. They hired him as an intern on the spot, on the strength of that letter. At the same time — I was about 30 — I got a chance (for a gig) at Backstage at the Rosen Plaza,” she said of the International Drive hotel’s nightclub, where she still occasionally appears.
It seemed the couple was set, but for one problem.
“I can get onstage in front of a million people, but I could not drive a car,” Naome said.
But she wanted the gig.
“So I took some lessons and I learned in three days,” she said.
She practiced driving by commuting to I-Drive at night from Melbourne.
Jack Bradshaw’s internship led to a permanent position as producer and a popular personality on The Philips Phile, heard weekday afternoons on WTKS-FM’s 104.1 Real Radio.
Jack and Naome have three girls, ages 24, 12 and 7 and all the children sing.
The oldest, graduated from The American Musical and Dramatic Academy and lives in New York City where she pursues a career and her dreams as a Broadway actress, immersed in a world of auditions, those a cappella adventures in rooms filled with professional strangers.
Naome herself underwent the rigors of the audition process last year for Season 2 of NBC’s ‘The Voice’ talent show.
She described that experience as “a nerve-wracking experience.”
“I hate auditions,” Naome said. “I only want to face my fears. I had 30 seconds to impress. Give me a night and I’ll make you love me, but 30 seconds?”
Naome wasn’t chosen for “The Voice,” but it hasn’t lowered her spirits or passion for making music.
“I have been afforded the luxury of travel — world travel — with my music,” she said. “I dance a delicate dance of motherhood and being a so-called rock star. I have a very good support network. To me that is the definition of success.
“You know I’ve heard people say, ‘Have you made it? ‘Why haven’t you made it?’ I say to them, ‘What is that? Where is this place called ‘Made It’? ”
But ‘Made it’ seems exactly where Naome Bradshaw might be or as she defines it, “to have what you love and who you love all at the same time.”