Charles Bradley at 9:30 Club Thursday, Jan. 16

When Charles Bradley sings “Victim of Love,” the title track on his latest album, he makes the emotional point—about his affection for a woman who may never return to him—very clear, stretching out the word “victim” to multiple syllables. The gritty-voiced singer has earned his right to cry. Abandoned by his mother at eight months, spending his teenage years sleeping in New York City subway cars, and later discovering that his brother was murdered, Bradley has survived some deep, dark hard times. But thanks in part to his sister taking him to see the Godfather of Soul at the Apollo Theater, Bradley has also found an outlet for his pain. Singing first with a broom as a mic, Bradley later graduated to clubs, and did a James Brown–influenced act at night while working as a cook by day. He was discovered by the R&B revivalists at Daptone Records, which (with affiliated label Dunham) has released two confessional and critically acclaimed albums from Bradley. Recent tracks now include a dash of hope, demonstrating what perseverance and a little love can accomplish. Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires perform at 7 p.m. at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $25. (202) 265-0930. 930.com.

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