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LEON BRIDGES' LOVE AFFAIR WITH R&B

For our recent Black Music Month special, we surveyed artists about the R&B records that moved the needle, reshaped the genre and rock their worlds personally. This time, we hear from Columbia's Leon Bridges, whose new album, Gold-Diggers Sound, just dropped.

I love the direction R&B is heading; Ari Lennox, Ro James, Daniel Caesar, for instance, are all doing cool things, almost reinventing soul by putting forward music that’s very fresh.

My entry into R&B was through my parents. My mom liked Sade and Anita Baker and my dad liked Curtis Mayfield, Otis Redding and Teddy Pendergrass. Those were my early influences until I discovered late-’90s and early ’00s R&B on the radio; I’m a huge fan of Ginuwine, Dru Hill, 112Stokley of Mint Condition is a big influence, too—he has one of the greatest voices.

So many R&B artists have had an impact on the wider culture. Curtis, of course; he set the precedent of the chord progressions and licks we still use today. For modern R&B, to me, it’s Usher. He’s had such longevity. I love how he took inspiration from Michael Jackson’s dancing and put his own spin on it. I love how he’s evolved as an artist; he stays true to the genre while always growing and staying relevant.

I admire Gil Scott-Heron and Sam Cooke for their activism. It was not easy to voice their opinions, speak on issues and share their stories in the social climate they lived in, and they were both very resilient in doing so.
R&B is one of the greatest genres of all time, the foundation of everything; English rock was so intrigued by R&B and soul. I want the media and radio to celebrate it and support it so we can put it out in front of as many people as possible.


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