Amid the protests and calls for racial justice after the death of George Floyd, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Leon Bridges has quietly released a new single that voices his own experiences with racism.
Called "Sweeter," the song is a collaboration with Los Angeles jazz and hip-hop artist Terrace Martin. According to a press release, the pair recorded it for an upcoming album but decided to release it as a single ahead of schedule.
Bridges, who grew up in Fort Worth and still calls the city home, dropped the release in an Instagram post on June 8.
Growing up in Texas I have personally experienced racism, my friends have experienced racism. From adolescence we’re taught how to conduct ourselves when we encounter police to avoid the consequences of being racially profiled. I have been numb for too long, calloused when it came to the issues of police brutality. The death of George Floyd was the straw that broke the camels back for me. It was the first time I wept for a man I never met. I am George Floyd, my brothers are George Floyd, and my sisters are George Floyd. I cannot and will not be silent any longer. Just as Abel’s blood was crying out to God, George Floyd is crying out to me. So, I present to you Sweeter.
Jun 8, 2020 at 7:53am PDT
In the press release, Martin calls the track "meditation music," adding, "it is not music for the ears but rather music for the heart.”
Over a drum beat and Martin's soft saxophone, Bridges sings the lyrics “Hoping for a life more sweeter/Instead I’m just a story repeating/Why do I fear with skin dark as night?/Can’t feel peace with those judging eyes.”
He then references Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., pondering why history seems to be repeating itself: “I thought we moved on from the darker days/Did the words of the King disappear in the air/Like a butterfly?/Somebody should hand you a felony/Because you stole from me/My chance to be. ”
According to an Instagram post by Fort Worth Weekly, Bridges joined a peaceful protest for Floyd and sang his hit "River" on Fort Worth's West 7th Street bridge May 31. As Bridges keeps a low profile around town, one commenter who was at the march said they heard the music but didn't realize it was Bridges singing.
In April, Bridges lent Fort Worth itself a helping hand, playing a virtual concert that raised $63,000 for local creatives and service industry workers affected by coronavirus-related shutdowns.
Listen to "Sweeter" here: