From the time she began writing poems in her childhood, to teaching herself how to play a dusty old piano and guitar, to performing shows at age 14, Bri Bagwell has followed a singular path towards music. Singer/songwriter, Bagwell, has seven #1 Texas radio singles, multiple Female Vocalist of the Year Awards, and four albums to her credit. The New Braunfels, Texas-based artist is known for her rousingly fun live performances and trailblazing artistry. Taste of Country raves, “Honesty, a big voice, and the right song are what makes a country star, and Bri Bagwell has all three.”
Country Exclusive describes Bri’s music as “thoughtful and accessible, personal and universal, authentically country. The hooks are smart, the melodies are memorable and engaging, a nice slice of modern country for those who appreciate a good lyric but still like a more contemporary sound.” Texas Music Pickers characterizes her recordings as “packed with both grit and grace. As she opens up and invites you to take a closer look, she confidently lets you know exactly who she is, what she wants, or how she feels in each track.”
Bri moves from the studio to live shows with the ease of a true star, performing an average of 150 shows a year with her band. She has performed with a long list of artists including Willie Nelson, Miranda Lambert, Robert Earl Keen, Kacey Musgraves, and Dwight Yoakam. A festival favorite around the world, she has appeared at over 20 festivals including the Key West Songwriters Festival, Festival Country Rendez-vous in Crappone, France, Guitars and Swim-Up Bars in Riviera Maya, Mexico, and Musicfest in Steamboat, Colorado. Saving Country Music explains, “It takes no convincing to book her on the main stage of a festival right beside the boys because she brings the energy and party to her live shows... She’s a songwriter like many of the women of Texas music, but she’s an entertainer as well.”
While growing up in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Bri first began performing as a teenager in her twin brothers’ band and immediately knew she loved being on stage.
“My mom and dad were always a little hesitant to let me play at the bar at such a young age. I recall a bouncer throwing a man out of the bar (and by throwing, I mean literally) for being obnoxious to a fourteen-year-old girl singing on stage. I got the honky-tonk education pretty early (and loved it), but even the bars were confused about protocol because I wasn't even 18. My parents had to be at every show, and I had to be escorted by a bouncer everywhere I went that was not on stage, especially on busy nights. With only short breaks between sets, it made the most sense to me to just get a piggyback ride from the bouncer to the back of the bar where my mom would wait for me while I went to the bathroom.” Laughing, Bri adds, “I still wish I could do this - it's really efficient. My hometown has always been supportive of me, which is such a blessing.”
After high school, Bri attended the University of Texas in Austin, jumping at the chance to live in ‘The Live Music Capital of the World.’ In college, she began teaching herself guitar, having picked up chords from watching her brother play. “My cousin Bleu Mortenson played steel guitar for years for people like Trent Willmon and Kenny Chesney, and when I told him I wanted to play guitar, he mailed one to my dorm! I picked it up pretty quickly, with the goal of learning enough chords to write/play country songs. Even though guitar doesn't make as much sense to me as a piano, I have fallen deeply in love with the instrument. Not to mention, I learned quickly that a guitar is much more portable than a piano,” adds Bagwell.
Equipped with the right city, the new instrument, and fellow musicians, Bri was on stage once again. “My senior year of college, a friend had a show at Mother Egan's Irish Pub on Sixth Street and he called me up to play a couple of songs during his set. The bar manager offered me my own show right then and there, which was incredible but terrifying for me (especially since I only knew a handful of songs on the guitar).” This turned into a weekly residency for Bri and then band performances grew from there.
Bri has seen her audience grow and diversify as she has progressed through the musical landscape. She released her first full-length album, Banned from Santa Fe, in 2011, and a self-titled EP in 2013. When a Heart Breaks was released in 2015, garnering her the accolades of Texas Regional Radio & Music Awards Female Vocalist of the Year, and single “My Boots” hit #1 on the Texas Radio Charts. She was the only female artist to have a number one song the entire year.
In My Defense, Bri’s latest album has spawned four singles, “As Soon As You” quickly hitting #1 on the Texas Radio Charts. Bri beams, “I am so proud of the record we have created, no matter how cliche that sounds. I have put everything I have into creating this record for myself and my fans. I truly believe it is the best record I have ever released, and the pressure I felt to create something great pushed me to the max. I embraced it. My producer Rachel Loy and I spent countless hours, concentrating and obsessing over every lyric, every melody. We tore apart and reconstructed anything necessary to make sure everything was exactly what the song truly needed. I think you can feel the work we put in when you listen to it.”
Though a schedule of constant touring can be trying, Bri’s faith in her purpose has never wavered. “I have had hundreds of moments where I know this is where I am supposed to be. There hasn't been a single day where I did not want to get on stage. I know that I will find a way to do this as long as I am physically able; it's in my blood. I cannot do anything else. Those magic stage moments are what I live for.”
Bri’s long list of admirers includes Travis Tritt who predicts, “This girl is the next big thing to come out of the state of Texas. She is what the future of country music should be.”