Singer-songwriter Brandon Marcel has the vocal prowess to croon sultry R&B lines one minute before unleashing a torrent of rhyme-based prose the next. Nationally, Marcel is still best known as the back-up singer of local R&B sensation Leon Bridges. Marcel is a rising star in his own right, though, and he recently took the time to chat about life, music and his favorite local spots to unwind.
“I really didn’t start singing until I was around 20,” he said. “I had never pursued music. I wrote a lot and kept a journal. I’m more of a quiet person.”
What were your favorite moments on tour with Leon Bridges?
"Working with Leon was my first experience touring. My favorite show was back home in North Carolina in Raleigh. I got to see my family there," said Marcel. "We did a show in Seattle where I have uncle up there. We’ve been many times to New York City where my brother lives... to going overseas and performing in the Hollywood Bowl."
Who are your musical influences?
"My dad is the bassist for Cameo. He was a big influence in [me] learning to love music. Sisqo and Usher, they are amazing singers. Frank Ocean, D’Angelo, Deputy, Leon Bridges and rapper Four Eleven are phenomenal artists.
Which Fort Worth venues are your favorite for live music or to perform?
"BLACKHOUSE is really cool. A new place called MASS is now open; however, I’ve been touring for a year-and-a-half so I haven’t been able to perform as much locally."
What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome in your career?
"I am a shy and reserved person. I had to outgrow that when on tour. Going from a couple of hundred people to thousands of people is tough. Having to [learn to] trust myself that I’m good enough was the biggest hurdle I had to overcome."
Where do you go to kick back?
"Magnolia Avenue is a really quiet, chill street. I love it for that reason. Me and Leon used to live over there. Sometimes, we’ll go to [West] 7th Street for a nightlife vibe. The Modern Art Museum is another fave. It’s more of a laid-back city, but that reflects who I am. "
I love Craftwork Coffee and the ice cream shop Melt... and Taco Heads.
How has hip-hop been received in Fort Worth?
"I don’t feel like hip-hop gets the respect that it should. Hear Fort Worth and Visit Fort Worth are doing a great job of integrating hip-hop into what they are doing. There are some amazing artists here. The way to bring eyes and ears to it is by incorporating them into Fortress Fest and smaller venues."
What’s the next step in your career?
"I still feel like I’m in a great place. Sometimes, we can move too fast and not be prepared for it. This is preparing me for all the great things that I have been praying yet to come."
"Fort Worth offers me challenges and opportunities to prepare."
"Hip-hop is the underdog here unlike country or folk music. Sometimes you stand out because you grind so much harder than other people.