She quickly gives her parents credit for having the greatest impact on her life, “They have always been supportive of my dreams and goals, without hesitation. I moved to Texas when I was 18 and didn’t know a single person there. I know that was hard for them.” That ingenuous sacrifice was a wise one, indeed.
Bri’s a far cry from just another pretty face. After graduating 4th out of 550 with a GPA greater than a 4.0, she could have pursued any field she wanted, which landed her in Austin, Texas. There she earned a Marketing degree in 2009 at the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business. She says, “I had a day job for a few months after graduating. I loved that, too, but it wasn’t as fulfilling as music. Music is definitely the more difficult path, I think.” She adds, “I believe that God gave me songwriting as a gift, and to hold that inside of me wouldn’t be fulfilling my purpose in life.” 6 years down the road, Bri’s been chasing that God-sent dream. “I’ve been in the Texas scene for a long time (by my standards). Every weekend we meet new people who come to the merch table and are surprised to see that I have three albums out, because they have never heard of me before. We aren’t new like many people think; we have persevered! Someone told me once that this scene is a lot about who can stay in it the longest without giving up. I’ve taken that to heart, and I haven’t quit.”
“I’ve had the band (The Banned) for four and a half years, but I played for over two years just acoustic before that, and before that I had been playing with my brothers in a band in New Mexico for about 7 years. I think it’s been a slow and steady ride for me, and meeting people/fans/bar owners/ radio DJs along the way has all really added up over time. Plus, The Banned and I really LOVE talking to people and hanging out after the shows. I think we’ve gained a lot of fans that have become friends along the way! Still a long way to go…
Folks might be curious as to why a New Mexico native like Bri would chose Texas Music, and she does not hesitate to explain. “There is nothing like the Texas Music Scene (which also has us touring other states like New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Louisiana due to the music’s popularity). We play over 130 dates a year, but a large majority of the radio stations that play our music are in Texas. You can make a living here just playing live music, which is absolutely crazy, and AWESOME!”.
When asked about her most memorable performance, she replies, “There are so many! We were 60 tickets from selling out Gruene Hall in 2014. It was incredible. People came from all over to support me on my first headlining gig there! People were singing all of the words to the songs, and I was emotional the entire time. My family was there too, which was special.”
“Banned from Santa Fe” was her first album where she wanted it to be a singer-songwriter album, and she accomplished just that. “It was exactly who I was at that point in my life. I think I sound really young on it, but I get people all the time that say they still love that album. I think it was a raw representation of myself before I knew “rules” about songwriting and had any clue about singing in a studio.” CD’s “Bri Bagwell EP” & “When A Heart Breaks” have followed as her style continues to mature. Currently her favorite song grew out of her agricultural background. “Dear John Deer”, is about asking an old John Deere tractor to give just one more year when times are tough. It’s interesting and humbling to see the way people relate to it. Her song “Whiskey” caught the attention of Rebecca Creek Whiskey, so about 3 years ago the President of Rebecca Creek/ Enchanted Rock approached Bri at a Gruene Hall show. “He had a Texas-shaped basket with some of the best whiskey I’ve ever tasted in it. I had just released my song “Whiskey” to Texas Radio, and he thought we should partner up.” T he rest is history, because she says, “You can find life-sized Bri Bagwell standups in over 90 liquor stores across the state, which makes for some pretty funny incoming text messages from my friends when they find them.”
Although she sings Texas country songs, Bri’s a big fan of 60’s music and loves The Beetles, CCR, and Fleetwood Mac. However, Elvis is her favorite. “I’ve been to Graceland twice. I’ll watch videos of him performing when we are on the road. He just had it all!” Bri lives by Maya Angelou’s words of wisdom, “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song.” She has a bird on her logo, and calls her fans “Bri Birds” because of this quote. Her down-to-earth sincerity about this is quite touching, “I just want people to know that I appreciate the love and support over the years…
I would not be anywhere I am today without the support of others; our popularity is largely word-of-mouth. When you have no PR budget, the fans are your PR, and I can never repay that.” Bri’s secret to success thus far is simple, “I just put out the best music I can, and put on the best show that I can. I hope that speaks for itself. I am currently the only female artist on a 33-person booking roster (Red 11 out of Nashville), and I work every day to prove that I belong there.” Bri Bagwell has high hopes of performing at the Grand Old Opre while navigating Nashville’s Yellow Brick Road. Intuition says, “She’s always had the power. She’s had it all along. She’s just had to find it out herself.” So, click those Ruby Reds one more time, gaze into our crystal ball, and make sure not to miss out on the bright of future of this Texas rising star. Eventually, she’ll be right at “home” at the Grand Old Opre, because Bri Bagwell is CMT’s next super star!