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Interview:
Leon Bridges at the Fox Theatre, 5 Things To Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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Music has been a "Good Thing" for Leon Bridges.



After causing a stir on the Dallas music scene for several years, the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Fort Worth became a sensation with his 2015 debut album "Coming Home," which spawned hits such as "Smooth Sailin'" and the title track and snared a Grammy Award nomination -- as well as an appearance on "Saturday Night Live" and a collaboration with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis on the duo's song "Kevin."



Bridge's sophomore album, "Good Thing," came out on May 4 and debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200. He worked with some new collaborators and expanded the sound a bit, but Bridges kept the rootsy, soulful sound that's his stock in trade largely intact. It's led to more, well, good things for the 29-year-old, including a role in the upcoming film "First Man"...



Bridges says by phone that making "Good Thing" "was definitely a challenge for me, because I knew I wanted to evolve the sound cut didn't know what that looked like. I did a lot of writing -- songs that were country, 70s soul-inspired, songs with a 1980s, R&B/Jodeci vibe, and it was hard to dial it all in and find the sound for a minute."



A trip to Los Angeles to record with writer-producer Ricky Reed, who executive produced "Good Thing," as the turning point, however. "Our intention behind going out to L.A. to work with Ricky Reed was to try things out and see if we could beat everything that we wrote back in Fort Worth. He encouraged me to go in those places I just wasn't comfortable going. The first song we wrote was 'Beat Ain't Worth the Hand,' and it was really insane because I'd never made songs that hi-fi sounding before. And then we wrote 'Beyond' and I knew we were on to something special."



Bridges says "Coming Home's" success was "somewhat of a surprise," but he feels that he kept any follow-up pressure at bay even as he struggled to find "Good Things'" direction. "There are times where I question my own ability to navigate through this whole music scene, but I feel like I've always been a grounded person. In the three, four years that I've been doing this I've changed, but not in a negative way. I keep good people around me and make sure I put my people first, from my band to the label and management and my friends. It's great having solid people around me. And I believe at the end of the day that God wouldn't have given me this opportunity if I couldn't handle it."



Bridges says the most surreal moment of his career so far was an invitation to President Barack Obama's last birthday party at the White House. "That was such a powerful moment, like crazy surreal. There was so much love in the building and some of the most influential people in the world celebrating his birthday. I remember walking in and Michelle Obama came up to me and was like, 'This is kind of like an open mic set-up, so if you want to grab the mic at any point and sing a song, go ahead.' It was a really rad moment, such a crazy, crazy thing."



Bridges portrays poet-rapper Gil Scot-Heron in the First Man" film, an experience he also calls "pretty rad. It's just a very small scene of me performing 'Whitey on the Moon' at a protest rally, but I had a good time doing that. I'd love to do more (acting) when my schedule slows down. It seems like I'll never get off the road but, yeah, it's all for the good."



Leon Bridges and Khruangbin perform at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets start at $42. Call 313-471-7000 or visit 313Presents.com.

Web Site: www.313Presents.com

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