Leon Bridges (born Todd Michael Bridges; July 13, 1989) is an American gospel and soul singer and songwriter from Fort Worth, Texas. He is best known for his song "Coming Home", which received regular airplay and was also a Top 10 Most Viral Track on Spotify. Bridges's debut album, which is also titled Coming Home, was released on June 23, 2015 on Columbia Records.
Bridges began his career by writing songs and learned guitar in order to play simple chords to accompany his lyrics. He played at open-mic nights around Fort Worth, like the famous Forever Jamboree at The Grotto, while working as a dishwasher until he was signed by Columbia Records in 2014. It was his song "Lisa Sawyer", about his mother's conversion, that first defined his style.
2014–2015: Coming Home
Bridges began writing and performing 1950s and '60s-style soul music that was described by Austin 360 as "a transmission straight from the heart." He began to attract followers and his break into the music industry has been attributed to meeting guitarist Austin Jenkins and Joshua Block of White Denim . It was Bridges's performance of "Coming Home" that caught the attention of the two. Bridges worked on his first few tracks with Jenkins and Block as producers. They recorded an album with vintage equipment, using local musicians affiliated with White Denim. Bridges released two demo songs on Soundcloud in late 2014. "Coming Home" received airplay from local radio stations including KKXT. It attracted the attention from a number of record labels with Bridges eventually signing with Columbia Records in December 2014.
Bridges began his first national tour in January 2015, playing shows in Texas as well as playing support for Sharon Van Etten in New York. His first official single, "Coming Home", was released on Columbia Records in February 2015. The song continued the success of the demo version and became a Top 10 Most Viral Track on Spotify the same month as its release. Bridges toured with Jenkins and Block until they resumed work with White Denim. He also played at the Sundance Film Festival and played at the SXSW festival in 2015.
His debut album was released in the summer of 2015 and has been referred to as a 2015 Album to Look Forward to From Texans by The New York Times. Bridges made the cover of Fort Worth, Texas magazine in May 2015 for not only his vocal accomplishments but also his distinctive retro style. "Coming Home" is featured in an Apple iPhone 6 commercial. Bridges made his first appearance in the UK as an artist in May when he sold out the London Village Underground. He then went on to announce four July dates, ending with a gig at Shepherd's Bush Empire on September 28. The album was nominated for Best R&B Album at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards.
Aside from his own shows, Bridges also supported Pharrell Williams at the newly renamed Apple Music Festival on the 26th September. While opening at the intimate Roundhouse, he was able to perform hits such as "River", "Better Man" and "Lisa Sawyer" from his debut album Coming Home.
Bridges also participated in Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' song "Kevin", which was released on the duo's second full-length album together.
Bridges was the featured musical guest on Saturday Night Live December 5, 2015. He performed "Smooth Sailin'" with a full backup band, and sang "River" with only backup singers and organ, accompanying himself on guitar.
Leon is featured on track 6 'Kevin' from 'This Unruly Mess I've Made'. This is the second album made by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
Robert Elms BBC London - Live Performance(s) April 2016
On Friday April 8, Leon Bridges was the live artist featured on BBC Radio London Robert Elms show. Elms interviewed Bridges briefly, and played track 8, 'Pull Away', from the 'Coming Home' album. Leon set-up to play live with Colin O'Brien, together they performed a live version of 'River'. After the live track, Elms could be heard to be emotionally impacted by the performance. The live track was so well received it was played again as "live track of the week" on the Elms Saturday show on April 9, and again on Monday 11 April during a program segment on the best ever live performances on the Robert Elms show.
Bridges's style is soul resembling 1960s rhythm and blues. The Wall Street Journal described him as a "throwback to '60s-soul a la Otis Redding and Sam Cooke." Bridges performs in vintage clothing; Fort Worth Weekly described him as someone whose "music sounds like he looks."