Artist to Watch: Leon Bridges


The Sweetness of Modern Gospel: Leon Bridges, an artist to watch

by Amanda Luberto

photo from the Dallas Observer


Every so often, an artist comes around that makes the world remember glory days of music. 25-year-old Leon Bridges is one of those artists.

The Fort Worth, Texas native creates a sound like no one else in modern music, transporting you back to the 1960s with his smooth voice and steady guitar. Leon Bridges sounds so much like Sam Cooke that I had to do a double take when I stumbled upon him.

“There was just nobody doing it,” Bridges said to a reporter for his hometown paper, Fort Worth Weekly, late last year.

Bridges had been singing at open mic nights while working as a dishwasher for years until the one song that made him find his sound. He wrote “Lisa Sawyer” about his mother’s baptism in a river in early 2014 and the soulful song caught the attention of Columbia Records, where he signed later in the year.

Bridges continued doing covers in bars until fate led him to met Austin Jenkins, the guitarist from fusion band White Denim. Bridges attributes the start of his career to the night Jenkins and White Denim band mate Josh Block saw him perform at a north Texas bar.

Hearing Bridges perform what would eventually become his first single “Coming Home” was all that was needed to get them hooked.

The trio recorded “Coming Home” with Bridges on main guitar and vocals, Jenkins on guitar and Block playing the drums and he has picked up steam ever since.

Bridges made his main stage debut at South by Southwest this March in his home state and has since released both “Coming Home”, “Lisa Sawyer” and a new single “Better Man.”

The gospel singer has recently been announced to play the first day of Outside Lands in San Francisco this coming summer, a bold move on behalf of the festival but a perfect venue for him to gain listenership, being significantly the largest festival he is to play this year. Citadel, Latitude and Middle of the Map Festival are among others that he made the lineup for this year.

Bridges will play his three tracks, his unrecorded original “Rivers”, but attendees can expect many covers from artists like the man that inspired Leon to do all of this, Sam Cooke.