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Fast start has Leon Bridges hanging on for dear life

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Leon Bridges is quietly becoming music's next big thing -- not that he's had a chance to notice, however.

"Y'know, I'm moving so fast I haven't really had time to sit down and think about it," says Bridges, the 25-year-old singer, songwriter and guitarist from Dallas who's soulful vocals have been compared favorably to greats such as Sam Cooke and who was the consensus hit at this year's South By Southwest Music Festival and Conference.

"It's very humbling to sell all these great responses to my music. A lot of doors have opened in such a short amount of time, I know I've taken a big step forward."

Born in Forth Worth, Texas, and raised primarily in Atlanta, Bridges came to music primarily from dance; he started when he was 11 and then studied jazz, ballet and modern dance in college. He also started to sing over hip-hop beats before learning to play guitar four years ago and write more conventional songs. "I just found it so much easier to share my heart through music than dance," Bridges explains. "The first song I ever wrote was a hip-hop instrumental, and then I would sing over the beat and I got a lot of great response to that, and that just fueled me to keep writing and keep moving forward."

Discovered and subsequently produced by Austin Jenkins and Joshua Block of the Texas rock band White Denim, Bridges was signed to Columbia Records and put out his first single, "Coming Home," in February. He's finished his debut album, which is due out soon and has been tagged as one of the year's most anticipated releases.

"I was just writing songs, and even a couple of months ago I was telling myself that I wasn't even ready to be at this point," Bridges says with a laugh. "I still work on my guitar skills and my performing. It's all new territory. It came so fast and I'm handling it pretty well, but I definitely didn't set out to do it -- not this quickly, at least."

Leon Bridges

8 p.m. Thursday, April 30

Cliff Bell's, 2030 Park Ave., Detroit

Tickets are sold out.

Call 313-961-2543 or visit www.cliffbells.com.

Web Site: www.cliffbells.com

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