It all began when Johnny Bedford was four years old, when he watched his older brother play drums and realised he wanted to be a musician too.
Now the Bradford College Music for the Creative Industries student is playing to audiences across the country after his act Dead Freedom won a spot at HMV’s National Album Day slot in October.
The talented blues and folk singer and guitarist is now recording a new album of his own, following the success of his first, and is hoping to reach new audiences.
Johnny said: “Playing at HMV felt surreal.”
Having performed publicly since he was 17, Johnny has also been writing his own songs since he was 16. He started to perform under the name of Johnny B, before later changing it to Dead Freedom.
The 30-year-old began his studies at Bradford College before leaving to take care of his young daughter. He has returned to the College and is currently in the second year of his degree.
The opportunity at HMV came through his friend Jali (Jaina Rushforth), who sent a social media post from the music store asking for local artists to perform live at the Leeds store for National Album Day in October. Dead Freedom had various recommendations for the slot and were one of three acts to perform that day.
A stack of copies of Dead Freedom’s album Standing Tall were put out for sale that day, which quickly sold out. Johnny said: “I always dreamed of selling albums. I would see CDs on sale in HMV and think ‘that’s what I want to do one day,’ and now I’ve crossed it off my bucket list.
“If it wasn’t for my tutors at Bradford College when I first began studying, I probably wouldn’t have come back to studying after my daughter was born.”
John Dey, lecturer in music and audio technology, said: “Johnny has managed to establish a really good support network. It’s good to know the local venues and musicians and he has become a well-known name on the regional music scene and built up a fanbase. He’s been very dynamic in making this happen.”
Johnny credits Bradford College with encouraging him to continue following his dreams but has this advice for budding musicians: “Always follow your gut instinct and do what you enjoy. Never pass up opportunities.”
John Dey added: “If you produce original music, make sure you enjoy what you’re playing as there’s a good chance other people will enjoy it too.”
You can find out more about Bradford College’s Music and Performance courses on the College website.