Leon Bridges and Cultural Mobility

Leon Bridges (via Instagram)

By Aidan Loughran

Leon Bridges is an African-American musician whose music genre ranges from rhythm and blues to soul and gospel. He was born in Atlanta, Ga. but grew up in Fort Worth, Tex.

Raised by a relatively poor family, his parents got divorced when he was seven years old, so he shared his time between them and their cities: Fort Worth and inner-city Dallas. Although he was not traveling from country to country, or even state to state, I view Leon Bridges as being culturally mobile.

Leon Bridges (via Instagram)

Bridges had to adapt to a different lifestyle, different cities, and different people after his parents’ divorce. As previously mentioned, he came from a poor family, so he was always going the extra mile to make ends meet. He lived at home, bussed tables at a local restaurant, and after his mother lost her job, he started working a second job as a dishwasher. Bridges also had family members from New Orleans and following Hurricane Katrina, 10 of them traveled to Texas to live with him and his mom.

A Billboard article titled, “Leon Bridges on Overcoming Childhood Isolation and Finding His Voice: ‘You Can’t Teach Soul,’” written by Jeff Weiss explains that, although Leon Bridges was surrounded by people all his life, he still felt alone. Weiss followed this with a quote from his interview with Bridges where Bridges said, “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.”

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.

Leon Bridges (via Instagram)

Bridges did not grow up as a Third CultureKid (TCK), but this quote reminded me of what TCKs, culturally mobile, and globally mobile people go through every day. Essentially, it doesn’t matter where you are or how many people are around you, but without a sense of home, many people feel forced to find some sort of outlet to serve as a coping mechanism. Sometimes these are negative, but they can also be positive.

This is when he turned to music.

“River” is my personal favorite of his songs, as well as one that brings to light a lot of sensitive topics, some that he was exposed to throughout his life. The music video of that song was filmed in Baltimore, Md., and parts of it were inspired by the Baltimore Uprising.

The song relates heavily to racial injustice and the Black Lives Matter movement. In a video interview from Leon Bridges’ personal website, he says, “It shows that I’m not perfect, but the Lord doesn’t care about the wrong that I’ve done, and that’s what ‘River’ is about.”

The picture below is of a tweet posted by Bridges, which also explains the meaning of the song on a deeper deeper level.

Photo tweeted by: Leon Bridges. (@leonbridges).

Aidan Loughran has a strong passion for the world and the people that surround her each and every day. When writing for Culturs, she wants her readers to relate to everything she writes. She fills her writing with a passion for the world, cultures, and life in general. Third-culture kids along with all other individuals of unique ethnicity, race, culture, and tradition all have a story to tell — a story that she wants to be a part of.


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