4 things to know about Leon Bridges

The 26-year-old soul sensation sold out the Variety Playhouse 10 minutes
Photograph by Rambo
Photograph by Rambo

1. He was born here. Bridges grew up mostly in Fort Worth, Texas, but he spent his earliest years in Atlanta. Still, he hadn’t been back since March, when he headlined at Eddie’s Attic. Now he’s humbled to move to a bigger venue. “I’m very blessed to have a sold-out show here,” he says.

2. He taught himself how to play guitar just a few years ago. In college Bridges trained as a dancer, but after a friend started bringing a keyboard to campus, he began dabbling in songwriting. His first compositions echoed the sounds of Usher and Ginuwine, whom he grew up listening to.

3. He wants to continue the Southern soul legacy. It wasn’t until someone asked Bridges about his influences that he began studying the genre’s back catalogue, using it as blueprint to re-create the sound in his own way. “Listening to black music today, nobody was really carrying it on,” he says. “I felt as a black man and a musician, I had to.”

4. His retro style is not a record label invention. Bridges favors a classic 1960s look, down to the pleated trousers he has sourced from thrift shops over the years. “It just wouldn’t feel right being on stage in a graphic T-shirt and jeans,” he says.

On the calendar: The critically acclaimed young soul singer serenades the Variety Playhouse on October 14.

This article originally appeared in our October 2015 issue.