Channelling the spirit of the old soul gospel greats with a sound reminiscent of the 50’s and 60’s may be perceived as the inspiration behind Leon Bridges unique signature style. But it’s hard to imagine that Leon Bridges envisioned he would be channelling the struggle of the 50’s and 60’s into our supposedly post-racial society today.
The reality of the struggle of black communities facing rising social and economic inequality, is as much an urgent crisis in modern day America today as it was in the civil rights struggle of the 60’s. Although the Grammy-nominated soul singer and songwriter may have struggled with being hailed as the “the second coming of Sam Cooke“, Leon Bridges is unlikely to be able to distance himself further from those comparisons with the premiere of the emotive Miles Jay directed video above for ‘River’.
Yet 50 years on from Sam Cooke’s Civil Rights anthem ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ there is something about the sentiment of ‘River’ that makes it as necessary today as the classic Sam Cooke song was back then. Drawing heavily from the Baltimore Uprising and filmed in Baltimore, the video for ‘River’ includes footage of a vigil scene that was only possible due to the support of the members of the West Wednesday movement, a bedrock of the Baltimore protest movement. The movement was created by the family of Tyrone West, who died while in custody of the Baltimore police department in 2013, leading to an uprising in Baltimore that is still imprinted in our memory.
Struggle is facing many and while Leon Bridges is all to aware of the one he faced on his own, the spiritual experience of music and its power to uplift is part of giving hope to many.
“River’ is taken from Leon Bridges’ debut album ‘Coming Home’ and Leon Bridges will be appearing live in the U.K;
7th April – o2 Academy, Liverpool
8th April – o2 Academy Brixton, London