Leon Bridges takes ‘Saturday Night Live’ to the ‘River’

Leon Bridges performs on ‘Saturday Night Live’ on Dec. 5, 2015.
Leon Bridges performs on ‘Saturday Night Live’ on Dec. 5, 2015. NBC

Less than 12 months ago, Leon Bridges had not yet signed with Columbia Records.

Since putting pen to paper in a Fort Worth Staples on Christmas Day 2014, the man born Todd Bridges has had what could only be described as a magical year. He’s released his debut album, Coming Home, to rapturous reviews.

He captivated critics and fans alike at this year’s South by Southwest, and has spent much of the past year touring the United States and Europe, with stops in between to honor the likes of Bill Withers and Willie Nelson, as well as performing on late night TV. He’s even competing for a Grammy in Los Angeles next year.

But Saturday, Bridges took his biggest step yet, another pinch-me moment in a year filled with them.

Bridges, along with several other Fort Worth musicians, performed as the musical guest on a Ryan Gosling-hosted episode of Saturday Night Live. He pulled two tunes from Home: Smooth Sailin’ and River. (The latter featured the McCrary Sisters on SNL.)

If the 26-year-old North Texan was at all nervous, it would have been difficult to discern, as he easily handled this latest elevation in profile. In particular, his rendition of Home’s closer, River, was deeply emotional, a fine showcase for Bridges’ vocals and the mixture of genres he favors.

Bridges has already booked some touring for the early part of 2016, as well as begun work on the follow-up to Home.

For all that he’s accomplished in less than a year, the coming months look to be even more active.

Preston Jones: 817-390-7713, @prestonjones