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Full disclosure: I am a white woman raising two white
sons. Leon Bridges is a black millennial
musician who is a throwback to soul singers from an era before even my Gen-X childhood. Think Sam Cooke or Otis Redding. 1960s smooth.
If either one of my boys grew up to be like Leon Bridges, well, I would
rest a happy mama.
I mention race, because I think it is integral to the
discussion of Bridges' music. His tunes
are full of literal "doo wop" refrains, making one think of a simpler era, a gentler
time. But that time wasn't simple or
gentle for black Americans. And though he's singing like it's back then, he's really talking about now.
Here's Bridges' recent performance on" Jimmy Kimmel Live," of one of his more upbeat songs, "Twistin' and Groovin"':
Bridges' roots are southern and full of soul. He grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, and his
mother had her start in Louisiana, which you know all about—even the name of the street where she lived—if you've listened to his ballad "Lisa Sawyer." He describes his mother beautifully, enviably even. We moms should all be so great that we move our children to make great art.
One way we can try and do better as mothers is raise children—sons and daughters—with hope and faith and awareness that the experience of others is as valid as our own, even when it is completely different from our own.
In his just released video for "River," Bridges
posted on his
Facebook page a personal message about what the song and video mean to
him. He sees them as a message of hope
in a time of great unrest and injustice in the world. A time, not so coincidentally, a lot like the
civil rights era his music harkens back to, as if transporting his listeners.
He writes, ". . . I reflected on the
depiction of black communities in our media and particular experiences within
my own life. However, unlike the
captured images which tend to represent only part of the story, I wanted to
showcase that through all the injustice, there's real hope in the world."
To maintain hope and encourage hope in others is a gift. Leon Bridges is blessed with that gift,
separate and apart from his genuine musical talent. Listening to his words, his melodic voice,
restores faith that things will be alright. His music doesn't ignore the difficulties, instead, it encourages us to see them,
think about them, try and do better, be better.
"The world leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, girl. You're the only one I want to be around," he
sings in "Coming Home."
One way we can try and do better as mothers is raise children—sons and
daughters—with hope and faith and awareness that the experience of others is
as valid as our own, even when it is completely different from our own. We must acknowledge, as Bridges does so well,
that even in challenging times and experiences, there is still room for