Leon Bridges is a man who transcends time. With a Grammy nomination and a voice often compared to soul great Sam Cooke, he is one of soul music’s most sought-after musicians. But it isn’t just his silky-smooth voice that transcends time—it’s his faith too.
Leon Bridges never really fitted in. Crediting his mother with his faith (as emphasised in his song ‘Lisa Sawyer’), he grew up with a lot of love, but struggled to make ends meet. And while many great musicians started in their church choir, Bridges was far too shy to even audition.
“I didn’t know where I fit in. I didn’t have any friends at school. People didn’t want to be friends [with me]. I had no place,” he told Billboard Magazine.
The story of how Bridges came to fame sounds like that of musical legends long gone. Dressed Otis Redding-style, he was discovered while performing at a dive bar in 2015. He stood out because his velvet vocals came straight from the golden era, and his faith-inspired lyrics harked back to days when we felt music, rather than simply hearing it.
“I don’t like to write flashy soul songs,” he explained to Billboard. “I’m writing from the heart, stories about family and truth. I just want people to see a genuine person.”
The public gravitated towards that authenticity once his breakout track ‘Coming Home’ was released online, and in the last three years he has collaborated with Christian rapper Lecrae, opened for Kendrick Lamar, and had his tunes played in marketing campaigns for iTunes and Beats.
However, becoming a world-renowned artist has come with challenges—one being how he expresses himself creatively—and that’s why he writes his own songs. You won’t find any swearing on his past two albums.
Still, Bridges doesn’t quite fit into the Christian music market. He is honest about his faith, calling himself a “Christian that makes art” rather than a Christian musician, and his songs are layered with allusions to God’s love and forgiveness.
That is where Bridges has found his true identity. Not as a man trying to find his place in the world by fitting in, but as someone who continually comes back to the God who created him.
As he says in ‘My Love Stays’, where he portrays a conversation between himself and God: “You don’t have to climb a ladder, bend over backwards to gain my love for you. ‘Cause, have you forgot, I love from the bottom to the top.”