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Building Bridges: The Rise of Leon Bridges

Fuelled by the spirit of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, Leon Bridges has hooked critics and roots music lovers alike…

Described as a “throwback to 60s soul a la Otis Redding and Sam Cooke” by The Wall Street Journal, and “The Truth” by his growing legion of fans, Leon Bridges is the sharp-dressed kid from Fort Worth, Texas who’s well on the road to becoming an international star.

Still only in his mid-20s, Bridges signed a major label deal in 2014 and released critically acclaimed debut album Coming Home in June this year. Produced by Joshua Block and Austin Jenkins of Texas psych band White Denim at their Niles City Sound studio in Fort Worth, the album has drawn critical acclaim for its vintage sound and Bridges’ pitch perfect 60s soul delivery.    

You signed with Columbia Records in late 2014 – how has your life changed since then?

I started recording the album in August of last year, and released Coming Home and Better Man in October of last year. Since then, everything’s just moved so fast.

Rumour has it that you had 40 labels chasing you at one point?

Yeah, it was definitely a lot of labels that were interested in signing me so I we had a lot of leverage. I felt that Columbia was the best route out of all those labels. And they’re all great labels but I just felt at home with Columbia and connected, you know?

Was it always your ambition to sign with a major label or would you have preferred to be an underground artist?

I would have been content either way cos I’ve done the-nobody-knows-me thing. If I had signed to an indie label I would have been just as content. But I wanted everybody to hear my music… the world. I felt Columbia would be able to put a big magnifying glass on what I was already doing.

Despite that, the recording of your album Coming Home was quite low-key and made with many of your friends…

Yeah. It’s cool. Austin Jenkins from White Denim said he wanted to make a record for me. He said, “Okay, I’m going to get some players together and we’re going to figure out a studio space.” And he gathered all these guys from around Fort Worth that are all in various projects, not session players, you know? It wasn’t like any Columbia hired guns. It was guys from Fort Worth. I called up some different friends of mine who weren’t session singers and said, “Come sing some songs.” I didn’t know how it would fit or work on the record but it worked out perfect.

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