Bradley loves being home, but ready to perform again
Only days before Tammie Michelle Bradley was going to return to Europe for performances there, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and shut down everything, she says. So a two-week break in Versailles to see family and friends turned into several months of waiting. “It’s been tough,” acknowledges Bradley, who has been here since February. At first, she remembers getting a little depressed about not being able to sing in an opera for an audience. Participating in virtual concerts became an outlet to perform and also get paid. And singing in virtual church services has “really kept my spirits up,” she says, while taking a daily walk in Versailles, much like she did growing up here. Bradley, who hadn’t been home for nearly two years, says the most positive thing about the pandemic has been being back in Versailles. “It’s been great,” she says. The 2000 Woodford County High School graduate says she’s been watching her great-niece, Teagan, grow from a 3-month-old baby into a 9-month-old who’s talking and getting ready to start walking. “She knows who I am now,” says Bradley, 38. “And I’m singing for my family. Which I’ve always wanted to sing for them, but traveling the world they don’t get to come with me.” So they are her audience when she’s singing in the bathroom or doing a virtual concert, she adds. Because of the many challenges related to traveling in the midst of a pandemic, Bradley spent a week and a half just getting a Visa so she can perform in Prague next month, she says. She describes playing the lead in “Aida” – one of the most famous Italian operas – as a challenge to her stamina as a singer after not being in a stage performance for more than seven months. “It’s been a dream come true,” says Bradley of her career. Bradley says she’s gained a following for Italian operas in Vienna, Berlin and other European countries. “I’ve sung Mozart as well, and Strauss and some other composers, but Verdi seems to be my home,” she explains. Bradley says she’s spent the bulk of her time in Europe performing in Germany. “The pandemic is a little bit scary,” she acknowledges, “but I’m excited to go back. I love Europe. I love the history, the beauty, the architecture, the culture … And they’ve always been very welcoming to me. “… I’ve met kind people everywhere I go. And I look forward to seeing my friends that live there.” She’s been keeping in touch with them and “I’m thankful to say, they haven’t been affected by this in regards to getting sick. So I’m really grateful.” As a solo artist managed by Columbia Artists in New York City, Bradley currently has a contract to perform at the National Theatre in Prague, she says. Future engagements include a performance at the Metropolitan Opera, she adds. One of her more memorable experiences at the Met was singing with “some of today’s greatest singers,” including Sondra Radvanovsky and Joyce DiDonato, in a production of “Norma” in 2017. “They were so kind, and I will never forget it. And I learned a lot from them,” Bradley says. Such experiences on the opera stage still amaze her. “I didn’t think (my opera career) would take me this far,” says Bradley. “I just knew that singing and music was what I loved. And I knew that I wanted to do it for the rest of my life.” Her father, Wayne Bradley, a former Woodford County Police chief, always told her, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” “And so far,” his daughter known professionally as Michelle Bradley says, “the past five years, I haven’t been working. It’s been great,” now laughing. She says both of her parents would be floored knowing their little girl was traveling the world to entertain large crowds in faraway places. “I really think they knew that I was supposed to do something worthwhile with my life,” says Bradley. “And although they’re not with me, they prepared me,” to face whatever came her way – even a pandemic that interrupted her career in music.