Songwriter Janie Bradford was born on June 2, 1939 in Charleston, Missouri, the youngest of three children born to Richard Henry, a minister, and Elizabeth Bradford. Although her father prohibited secular music in their home, Bradford was influenced early in life by diverse music styles, including country and gospel. In 1956, Bradford graduated from Lincoln High School in Charleston then migrated to Detroit, Michigan where she attended the Detroit Institute of Technology and lived with her sister Clea Bradford, a jazz singer. There, Bradford met Jackie Wilson, who introduced her to the founder of Motown Records, Berry Gordy.
In 1958, Bradford joined Motown Records as a secretary but soon became a songwriter for Motown singers. The first two sings she co-authored with Gordy were included on Jackie Wilson’s album, Lonely Teardrops. The next collaboration that Bradford co-wrote with Gordy was the song, “Money (That’s What I Want),” which been covered over two hundred times by artists such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Muddy Watters, The Supremes and Boyz II Men. Bradford’s administrative involvement with Motown Records continued to grow, and Gordy named her director of writer’s relations. Bradford worked for the company for more than twenty-five years as a songwriter at Motown Records where she wrote numerous hit songs such as “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby,” “Your Old Standby,” “All The Love I’ve Got,” “Time Changes Things” and “Contract On Love,” which she wrote for Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells, The Supremes and Stevie Wonder, respectively.
She independently wrote the lyrics for Marvin Gay’s top-selling track, “Just Keep Thinkin’ Bout My Baby,” which was one of his top-selling singles. Bradford served as an administrative secretary for Jobette Records, and has received credit for naming “The Supremes,” who were originally known as “The Primettes.” Bradford went on to become the founder of Mountain Goat Music and Music Notes Gift Shop in Beverly Hills, California where she publishes Entertainment Connection Magazine. In addition, she is the executive director of the Janie Bradford Heroes and Legends (HAL) Scholarship Fund and producer of the HAL Awards. In 2010, Bradford established Twin Records with songwriter and singer Marilyn McLeod. Together Bradford and McLeod produced Bradford the album titled, I Believe in Me.
Bradford has been honored by BMI with a Certificate of Achievement for her co-authoring “Money” and “Too Busy Thinkin’ About My Baby.” Jack the Rapper presented her with the Vivian Carter Award for her contributions to music, and during L.A. Music Week in 2011 the City of Los Angeles presented her with honors.
Music writer Janie Bradford was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 28, 2012.