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The Campus Times

Student spotlight: Shane Bradford

Known for his unique style and parkour moves, Shane Bradford has a story to tell
Andrew Swift
Shane Bradford is a senior at Campbellsville University, and he loves to demonstrate his talents. Enjoying a nice, warm day in Louisville, Bradford took full advantage to practice his “tricking.”

Every day we go out into the world, passing strangers who we know nothing about and may have not shared their story with anyone. Most of the time, people of the world are so consumed with their own agenda, they miss an opportunity to meet and speak to someone very interesting.

A perfect example of this is Campbellsville University senior Shane Bradford. Bradford was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky in the Shively district. Bradford grew up in church and was mesmerized by the organ player, which sparked his passion to learn the piano and start creating music. Ultimately, his passion and skill attracted professors from Campbellsville, and Bradford decided to bring his talents here. Bradford is studying Music Performance in hopes to one day pursue a music career. However, the road was not that easy, and life is never that simple.

With a pleasant demeanor and an overall “chill” nature, you would be able to recognize him in a crowd of many. Rocking his dreadlocks and spiritual jewelry, Bradford presents himself in a very positive light. As with everyone, though, there is always more than what meets the eye. While Bradford had both of his parents early on, things would change for him very quickly. At the age of seven, Bradford lost his mother to colon cancer. Bradford said he was able to understand the gravity of the situation at the time, but he didn’t know how much it would impact him later.

“In retrospect, I think it affected a lot of the things younger me went through,” he said. “When I was younger, I was very quiet, shy and wasn’t very outspoken. I wouldn’t talk to strangers or branch out, and in some ways that still stays with me now to the point where I will kind of stay reserved unless you know me.”

Bradford misses his mother but he’s also grateful this happened to him at such a young age.

“I feel like there’s really nothing I can’t handle,” he said. “Like, even when things do get hard, I know that I can just bounce back. With my mother gone, though, going through middle and high school was a different experience than what most people would have.”

Bradford said that on his mother’s death bed, she told her sister to look after him and make sure he grew into a good man. Bradford’s aunt, Vernanda Rice, who was given the nickname “Chigga” by his family, became somewhat of a mother figure to him during that time. He described her as someone he could talk to about anything, no matter how personal it was. While Bradford loves his father, he said his father was more of a provider of his physical needs than he was a caretaker. Chigga was someone who took that role in his life and helped him with his emotional needs. Not long into his college career, though, Bradford would experience another painful loss as Chigga passed away two years ago from COVID complications.

“When that happened, it was like losing my mom twice,” he said. “My mom passed away at seven, then I have a god mother, and she passes away when I’m 19. This time around I would say that it was even harder because I was conscious and fully aware of what was going on.”

Shane Bradford performs his solo at a Campbellsville University jazz recital. Bradford has been playing guitar for the past five years and falls more in love with it every day. (Andrew Swift)

Through all this adversity, however, Bradford’s passion for music continued and allowed for a creative space he could enter when everything seemed to be impossible. He started playing the piano on his own, just learning popular music at the time from YouTube videos. He would then use what he learned from those videos to start creating his own music. Eventually, he started playing out comfortably which caught the attention of some music staff at CU. Bradford applied to many other schools, but with his high school band director being from Campbellsville, he brought people from Campbellsville up to Bradford’s high school. Bradford was asked to go on a tour of Campbellsville, where he enjoyed the beauty of the campus and ultimately decided to continue his collegiate career.

Bradford is well known throughout campus for his charisma and his “chill” nature. People who know him and are friends with him describe him as resilient, creative and charming.

 “Shane is a go with the flow type of guy,” said friend and fellow music student Anna Osbourne. “If anything bad happens, it’s no biggie for him. Not only that, but he’s always so respectful, and his support is so unconditional. He is genuinely the chillest person I’ve ever met. If a tree could be a person, it’d be Shane.”

Bradford seems to create a pleasant atmosphere no matter who he is around. If you were to spend time with him, you would never know how much he has been through.

“Every time I talk to Shane, he is always super positive, and it seems like nothing can get him down,” said friend and music student Landon Robison. “His mental strength is amazing.”

Along with his friends, Bradford has also made connections with his professors. Music professor, Saulo DeAlmeida, is someone Bradford said has made an impact on his music and collegiate career.

“One thing that was hard to get used to coming to Campbellsville was the culture,” Bradford said. “You don’t hardly see any black professors anywhere, and you definitely don’t have any in the music building. Saulo is someone who understands culture, and he has been around the world in a lot of different settings. He understands my culture in particular, and it is really comforting to have that in a professor associated with my major.”

While DeAlmeida is associated with many different students and music groups in and out of Campbellsville, he was able to form a great professional relationship with Bradford and praises his talents and resiliency.

“Shane is an absolute joy to work with,” DeAlmeida said. “He is super talented, and he never gives up. When he starts something, you know he is going to finish it. I believe he is going to have a very successful career in music. He composes very well; he is very smart, and he just brings a lot to the table. Most important of all, he always has a good and positive vibe that follows him around which allows him to bounce back with a positive mindset.”

Now, you have probably seen Bradford either skateboarding around campus, playing pianos in places across campus or doing backflips in different buildings. Bradford said with his love for music also comes a love for parkour, free running and what he calls “tricking.” He describes tricking as a combination of parkour, free running, martial arts and gymnastics.

Shane Bradford found a beautiful sunflower-filled field where he felt was a more than necessary place to exploit his gifts.

“I didn’t have many friends when I was younger,” Bradford said. “So, I would always hang out with my cousins. One of my cousins, his name was Karon, he was very much so a bad influence, doing things like jumping over fences and gates and backflips, and I always just thought that was cool.”

With his cousin, Bradford would look at parkour videos online and turn his father’s basement into an obstacle course. They would jump over the couches and practice different moves they would see in these videos. Another major influence in this part of Bradford’s interest was his Louisville friend, Antonio. Bradford described Antonio as someone who would provide mentorship and advice for not only tricking, but for all aspects of his life. Seeing Antonio and doing all these different tricks himself, opened Bradford’s mind to a new world.

With plans to graduate in May 2025, Bradford has big dreams and aspirations for his future. At one point he thought the dream would be fame, but he now sees that there is a more tangible future ahead of him.

“I really want to just do what I love,” he said. “I want to travel the world and play music either by myself or with a band. Just whatever comes to me to be honest. My goal is to play music that makes me and others happy. It is really anything anyone would wish for; to be able to do what you are most passionate about.”

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About the Contributor
Andrew Swift

Andrew Swift is a senior at Campbellsville University. A native of Columbus, Ohio, Swift plans on pursuing a career in the world of audio-visual services.

Swift was originally planning on playing basketball throughout college, but different circumstances led him to start bowling. He’s a member of the CU bowling team, and says it’s the greatest thing to happen to him.

In addition to bowling, Swift also enjoys playing basketball, guitar and spending time with his friends and girlfriend.

Swift hopes to work in a big venue working lights and sound for concerts after he graduates.

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