We had the good fortune of connecting with Samantha Lee Bridwell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Samantha Lee, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
My mother was in the Army, so we moved the majority of my young childhood. I was born in Bethesda, Maryland then we moved to Germany, Georgia, and back to Germany where my Dad stepped up into the “Mr. Mom” roll as they would call it in the early 90’s. He was and still is the best dad. He really leaned into being the best dad he could be all those years Mom was gone. He made sure we still could feel connected with her, even though we were apart and had no idea where she was or what she was doing. I remember he gave my sister and I a tape recorder and we each got one tape to fill up and he would send them to her. They were filled with the sounds of my sister and I just chatting away as we were either playing or taking a bath. I would sing to her a lot, making up songs about my day. Those years were tough, but made us so strong and our love for each other grew stronger and stronger each day. Our last and final move was to Winter Park, Florida where Mom retired and we finally had somewhere to call home. Being told as a child in the 5th and 2nd grade that we were moving to practically Orlando, my sister and I were PUMPED! What kid wouldn’t be? Mickey and Minnie mouse right there in the back yard? Sunshine? 40 minute drive to the beach?! We were all about it! Mom wouldn’t be doing anymore year long deployments and would be retire in 3-4 years; we would all be together as a family again. Once we got to Florida my eyes were opened to what life looked like not living a military family life. I made friends because I knew I would be around and not have to pick up and move to a different state or out of the country again. I was able to go through middle school and high school with the same group of friends and feel like a normal kid. I was involved with sports, theater, sang in the church youth group band, and had Dreams. Big, big Dreams that my family always supported and made me feel like anything was possible with hard work. An example of their support: The summer before my junior year of high school I had been telling my Dad about wanting to paint a mural of some sort. He convinced my Mom to let me go ham on my bedroom walls. He even went far enough to tell me I could paint the ceiling like Michelangelo for the Sistine Chapel. Mom didn’t like that idea so she drew the line at me just painting the walls. So, I pushed my bed into the middle of the room and painted my heart out. They did that for me and I felt so heard and thankful that summer because it is what I needed! Through all of the years our family was apart, we were strong. It was always Us. We like to call our family our island. I am so very fortunate to have my island. it is the most supportive, loving, and safe place I still know to this day. I wouldn’t be half the person I am now without the love from my family. The values I have learned from them have shown me that a little bit of love, kindness, and understanding goes a long way.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I love to sing. Like when I say love, I mean LOVE to sing. It is my happy place and something I learned very early on. I didn’t start thinking it was something I could do professionally until asked if I wanted to join my first band, Cadillac Recipe, at 21 years old while hosting Karaoke in a dive bar in Winter Park, FL. Man, did they kick start a dream that I didn’t really think was possible for me. We went on tour after releasing an album that started in Orlando and went all the way across the country ending in LA. On that tour one of our stops was in Austin, Tx. The moment I stepped out of the van I just knew this was going to be my city one day. Fast forward a year, my now husband Ron and I decided we were going to load up my beat up 2005 hoopty Toyota Camry that screeched every turn and made our way to Texas with 1,800 in our pockets and a dream. We quickly started a band called Samantha Lee & The Family Tree. We have released an Album, 2 singles, a live album, and currently working on our next self titled album in the studio. This next album is something I am very excited for and proud of. It shows the growth of the band and has a very unique sound and style. It has definitely been a labor of love and learning experience. Between rotating band members and making sure everyone in the group is financially stable to live their lives, to constant conflicting schedules for practices and shows. What I have learned most is picking myself back up after rejection. This industry is filled with it from venues saying you don’t have a draw or online presence. Body image has been a big one for me, hearing “You know if you lost like 50 pounds you would probably have been signed by now. “You are great! Just not what we are looking for.” Learning to keep pushing because it is what makes me happy and it is my passion. I guess that can come off a little selfish, but at this point it is what gets a lot of musicians out of their beds in the morning because it also has the same effect for them. Release. To let go of it all just for a moment and to be lost in the music. My music when I write really comes from my emotions of what I am going through and what I have been through spanning over multiple genres from Rock to Soul to Pop or whatever vibe feels needed that matched my feeling in that moment. I feel it in my heart when someone will tell me that they feel connected to one of my songs. That it makes them feel something, Anything. That is what its all about for me. Feeling. Sharing in someone’s experiences that you might not even know and what those words or sounds mean to them. Music is Magic and something that can bring even the most opposite people together. It is truly something beautiful. After 11 years of making music and singing every chance I get, I still get that feeling of butterflies in my stomach before I open my mouth and sing that first note. I hope that feeling never goes way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First I would bring her for some Tacos at Paco’s Tacos for brunch, then we would make our way our to Dripping Springs to spend sometime at my favorite brewery Family Business Beer Company for some tasty brews and live music. next day we would have breakfast at the omellettry then go for a day hike at the green belt and pack a lunch. following day we would grab some coffee at Radio Coffee and spend the day downtown checking out the art museums and walk around the capital that night we would bar hop on 6th street. next morning we would go on the Twisted Texas Brunch Tour with live music on the bus and go to three different fun brunch spots. Marias Taco Express, Lucys fried Chicken, and Batch. rest day next day would be all about BBQ. Terry Blacks and then a walk around zilker park shopping out at the Domain and ended all with kayaking on Lady Bird Lake.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
To my Family Thank you all for always believing in me and loving me as fiercely as you do. Words will never be able to comprehend what you all mean to me.
photos taken my Paul S. Safford Amy Woldrich Madeline Krause