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Bridgette Tatum

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It’s rhinestone cowgirl glam topped off with a well-worn baseball cap. It’s a sweet South Carolina low country drawl, punctuated with raucous laughter and a few well-placed swears. It’s a tender vulnerability exposed by life’s hard knocks, and the gritty swagger of a survivor. It’s a lot of things, but no words can distill the essence of Bridgette Tatum better than the woman’s own: “Sex, church, and chicken. That’s what it’s all about,” she declares with a matter-of-fact nod that doesn’t quite hide her mischievous grin.

The firecracker brunette was raised on the tent revival brand of soul-shaking gospel, swirling with the Holy Spirit and saturated with raw passion. “I learned to feel music before I could hear it,” Bridgette attests. Music coursed through her veins, seeping deep into her bones, and manifesting as the powerful sultry wailing and soulful crooning that brand Bridgette’s sound uniquely as her own. “Music is what I was put on this earth to do,” she explains, “and it comes from something much bigger than me. I’m just a vessel for the music.”

This clarity of purpose was born, amazingly, of a violent and senseless attack. During Bridgette’s shift at a local motel, a disgruntled customer took a razorblade to her face, forcing her into six months of recuperation and some serious soul searching. She recognized her calling in music, and knew that life was too short not to pursue her dream of being a professional singer and songwriter. Promptly thereafter, Bridgette moved to Nashville and enrolled in the music program at Nashville State Community College.

Bridgette studied music as dutifully as she studied the business of music, quietly observing the riggings and trappings of Music City. “You can get pulled in a million different directions in this business, and I wanted to be sure not to get pulled in the wrong one,” she explains. “I met a lot of people and had a lot of opportunities. But I was a different animal than most people in this town knew how to handle. Music is your baby, and you know if you don’t trust your baby-sitter, you’re not gonna hand over your kid.”

Following her first outing at a Hall of Fame Lounge writer’s night, Bridgette continued to take in the lay of the land as she worked up to the honky-tonks on Broadway and a regular Friday night gig at the Star Café in White’s Creek. It wasn’t until she found a kindred spirit in manager Carolyn Miller, however, that her career began to really take shape. “Carolyn saw my potential, she got it, and she believed in what I was doing,” recounts Bridgette. The two women became friends working closely together for The Charley Foundation, a children’s charity that the pair continues to be passionately involved in. “Then one day, we were sitting in an airplane over Texas and Carolyn just pulled out a legal pad and made me a deal. ‘Let’s do this,’ she said.”

It was through the encouragement of Carolyn, that Bridgette collaborated musically with whom came to be her future producer, Danny Myrick. Danny’s schooling in gospel made him a perfect match for Bridgette’s soulful sound. Their partnership proved as successful in songwriting: they co-wrote “She’s Country,” a top ten hit for Jason Aldean, as well as many of the songs on the forthcoming album, including “Hillbilly Rockstar.” “It’s an anthem for all the country people who like to get dressed up, go out to the clubs and have a big time,” Bridgette says. “I like to say it’s country with some couth.”

It could as well have been an anthem for Bridgette, Danny, and her band as they descended on Las Vegas to make an album at The studio at the Palms casino, christening the studio as the first country act to ever record there. “I love the chaos of Vegas. It’s a very creative place for me,” Bridgette explains. “I felt like we needed to get out of Nashville, out of the box. I wanted to leave all distractions at home, for me as much as the band. I wanted to let them out of the cage.”

They laid down 13 tracks over an intense five-day period, lending the arrangements a manic creativity that plays off Bridgette’s unique artistry and passion. The album reflects her many personalities, effortlessly transitioning from defiant, amped-up rockers to tender, intimate ballads to straight-shooting social commentaries. “My music is as diverse as I am, and I think people can relate to that. We all have many sides to us.” Throughout it all, Bridgette and Danny’s shared gospel groove link the seemingly contradictory moods with a unifying soul.

“My roots in gospel have shaped everything I’ve done as an artist. I want my music to be that real and to make people really feel it. If I don’t do that, then I’m not doing my job. If it’s a ballad, it’s going to touch you,” she continues. “If it’s a rockin’ tune, you are going to rock and roll till your pants fall off.” Indeed, Bridgette’s powerful delivery makes it easy to live vicariously through her highs (“Hillbilly Rockstar”) and lows (“Hold On To Me”), whether she’s making up (“Missin’ You Crazy”) or getting down (“Cowboys Dirty”).

“Not a lot of women would cut a song like that,” she says in regards to the explicitly steamy “Cowboys Dirty”—not to mention “Sex Machine.” Always perfectly candid (“Some Things Need To Be Said”), Bridgette’s frankness is refreshing. “People just want to be safe and I’m not interested in being safe,” she says. “If it’s real and you are making it honest, that’s what people want to hear.”

With unfailing honesty and a penchant for risk-taking, Bridgette Tatum is storming the scene on her own terms and winning fans at every turn. “That’s really what it’s all about,” she concludes. “The people. There’s nothing like connecting with a crowd and seeing their reactions to what you have to say. There’s nothing like it in the world.”