Named a “BADASS WOMXN IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST “by Press Books.pub, the first artist to sign with Stevie Wonder’s fledgling music label, Black Bull Music in 1971, then 18-year- old Bernadette Bascom launched her professional music career, a journey that would eventually earn her a coveted Emmy Award in 2004 for a documentary, “Bernadette’s Touch,” chronicling her groundbreaking achievement using voice-training methods— and TLC— to help non- speaking kids learn to talk.
Along the way, she racked up an impressive list of accomplishments, beginning with convincing her religiously strict, minister father to permit her to pursue her dream as a recording artist, after dropping out of college in her first semester.
Her dad, Reverend Marion Curtis Bascom, pastor of Douglass Memorial Community Church in Baltimore, Maryland, where Bernadette was born and raised, was a prominent Civil Rights activist and associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Rev. Bascom marched with Dr. King in Alabama, and hosted King at his home whenever the Southern Christian Leadership Conference president visited Baltimore.
Her mother, Lutherine, while also steadfast regarding Bernadette’s pursuit of a formal education as the priority, was more lenient about her developing her God-given vocal talent. Perhaps the combination of her maternal nurturing spirit, and the fact that she was a music teacher, Bernadette’s mom secretly took her to rehearsals and competitions in furtherance of her singing ambitions, unbeknownst to her dad.
Bernadette’s professional dreams began coming true when she was approached by a Philadelphia-based band, The People’s Choice, who knew of her talent and offered her to replace their original lead singer who had recently left the group. The People’s Choice was enjoying phenomenal success from their 1975 #1 Billboard hit, “Do It Any Way You Wanna,” and invited Bernadette to join them on tour.
Despite Bernadette advising the band’s leaders that her father would never give permission, they met with Rev. Bascom in his home one Sunday afternoon after church and left with a signed contract, putting Bernadette on the path to substantial professional success. Besides her obvious vocal range and inflection, the main ingredient that drives her dynamic delivery is her spirit.
Perhaps this may also be true to those who have only experienced Bernadette’s persona through electronic delivery, her aura exudes a soul that is genuinely passionate, and compassionate. The essence of Bernadette’s vocal depth and presence are the same qualities that inform her positive outlook and practice of life, strongly motivated by her love of people, particularly children. Bernadette summoned her best angels when she devised, developed, and directed The Music Project.
As Founder and Creative Director of the Northshore Music Project/MusicAsLanguage Foundation, Bernadette is accomplishing what some of her admirers consider to be miracles by successfully enticing autistic children and other youth with emotional impediments that prohibit them from speaking, by coaxing them to talk, to finally share themselves with others through the gift of speech using techniques she developed over her career as a vocal/singing coach.
The results have been so stunning that she has been approached by Microsoft Corporation and is currently collaborating to launch an app that incorporates her methods by using tech to multiply her success with children around the world, helping them experience a higher quality of life through speaking, and of course, singing. Look for a huge media splash in the coming months to introduce this game-changing app!
Part of the irony of Bernadette’s story is that her father, the Rev. Dr. Bascom, a very serious man who dedicated his life to uplifting people through the spoken word and wanted his daughter to pursue a course in life that was equally prestigious, could never have imagined that her deep desire to perform, encouraged by her childhood friend and mentor, Stevie Wonder—and secretly by her mother, the music teacher— could ever rival what he accomplished through his powerful sermons, sit-ins, and demonstrations. He would no doubt be astonished, and proud.
Bernadette Bascom’s singing career has taken her around the world sharing venues with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Ashford & Simpson, Elton John, Lenny Williams, and the role of featured singer in her first group, The People’s Choice.
She was a sensation for 15 years on the Vegas Strip, showcasing music from the storied Motown Café catalogue of the 1960s and ‘70s as an ensemble member performing as one of the Divine Divas and The Motown Moments revues.
In her adopted hometown of Seattle, Washington, Bernadette is embraced as a musical icon and is highly respected in the community. She is being recognized during Black History Month with other influential African American artists like Ray Charles and Quincy Jones.
Bascom is an adjunct faculty member at Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, an instructor in Entertainment, Performance and Vocals.