If you're reading this, you know that country music is a vibrant genre with lots to say. While the discussion about incorporating hip-hop elements into country radio has been bitter and divisive, it's also important to consider that other genres have a lot to add to country -- and that they have a lot more in common than not. That's the guiding philosophy behind CMT's series CMT Crossroads, which matches some of the best country artists with some of the best artists from other genres. Most recently, the show paired R&B phenom Leon Bridges with Luke Combs.
Bridges is a Grammy-nominated R&B artist and songwriter whose 2015 album Coming Home hit the world like a cannon ball. He's a daring songwriter, singer, and performer. Luke Combs is a multi-platinum Country singer-songwriter, whose gravelly voice recalls classic country. Putting the pair together is like peanut butter and jelly. On "CMT Crossroads," the pair have released duets of Bridges' "Beyond" and Combs' "Beautiful Crazy."
The episode is a recording of a special outdoor performance in downtown Nashville in front of a live audience. The show aired on CMT on June 28 and featured some of both artists' hits as well as a few new songs. The show has been available online but the audio can now be streamed and purchased. On "Beautiful Crazy," Bridges expertly weaves harmonies between Combs' bold melody.
Bridges hails from Forth Worth, Texas. His debut album, Coming Home, drew comparisons to Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. In May 2018, Bridges released his follow-up, Good Thing, proving he could outrun the dreaded sophomore slump. Unlike Coming Home, Good Thing draws its influences from modern rap and jazz with stunning precision and craftsmanship. Combs is known for his album This One's For You. Thanks to that album, Combs now has three No. 1 hits: "Hurricane," "When It Rains It Pours" and "One Number Away." He's also released an expanded, 17-track collection of the album entitled This One's For You Too. He just confirmed his first headline arena tour, the 2019 Beer Never Broke My Heart Tour. Combs has sold out venues in 23 out of the 28 stops. He's also received two CMA nominations for the Male Vocalist of the Year and New Artist of the Year. He's also been nominated for Favorite Album-Country at the 2018 American Music Awards.
The two were clearly thrilled to work together.
"I loved working with Luke," Bridges said in a statement. "He has a great voice, amazing songs and made me feel so welcome. I'm happy to be able to share this different version of 'Beyond' as Luke brought so much to it, as well as get to appear on 'Beautiful Crazy.' Psyched to hear them all over again!"
Combs was equally excited. "Leon is one of those artists that is changing the game," he said. "His showmanship and connection to his songs and fans is truly awesome. Getting to sing 'Beyond' with him and his band was a highlight for me and 'Beautiful Crazy' is dynamite with him. The best part of this is now having him as a friend."
The CMT Crossroads series first hit the airwaves on January 13, 2002 with Elvis Costello and Lucinda Williams. Since then, they've featured collaborations between Kid Rock and Hank Williams, Jr., Ray Charles and Travis Tritt, Dave Matthews and Emmylou Harris, Bon Jovi and Sugarland, Kelly Clarkson and Reba McEntire, Def Leppard and Taylor Swift, Sting and Vince Gill, John Mayer and Keith Urban, Steven Tyler and Carrie Underwood, Stevie Nicks and Lady Antebellum, Katy Perry and Kacey Musgraves, Alicia Keys and Maren Morris, the Backstreet Boys and Florida Georgia Line, Kesha and Old Crow Medicine Show and many others.