Bonnaroo Artist | Bailey Bryan
Bonnaroo History | Newbie
Stage & Time | Friday | Who Stage | 2:45-3:30pm
As we’ve been doing for the past several years now, we’re making it our mission to help you get acquainted with many of our favorites acts from Bonnaroo‘s 2021 lineup. However, to say that this year’s Bonnaroo is a bit of an unconventional one would be an understatement. Postponed from 2020, moved later into the summer, and with a lineup, schedule, and enhanced Covid-19 precautions all only announced and finalized mere weeks from the fest’s Sept. 2-5 weekend, we’re starting our preview coverage later than usual now that we have the full rundown, and will only be highlighting a handful of artists we want to make sure are on your radar this year, reflecting the full gamut of the festival’s days and stages, and even some performers from the plaza lineup. Additionally, look out for our full list-style lineup guides for each day of the fest, with many other artist recommendations, to help you navigate Bonnaroo’s stacked and sprawling 20th-anniversary slate.
Tickets for 2021 sold out in record time, but if you already have yours, or you manage to snag some from a reputable 3rd party, we hope you’ll do everything you can this year to keep yourself and your fellow Bonnaroo attendees safe throughout the fest, and to behave as cautiously as possible after to limit your risk of exposure to others. We’re thrilled to have music back, but, as the Delta variant fuels a rise in Covid cases, if we want it to stay back and stay safe, we all need to take care of one another. That said, we’re hoping this year’s Bonnaroo marks another important milestone on the road to normalcy, and some welcome solace for those in attendance. To help you get ready, read on for our Bonnaroo Artist Spotlight.
Like a lot of aspiring teen singer-songwriters of the past decade, when Bailey Bryan, who grew up in smalltown Washington and developed an early affinity for music and performing in church, arrived in Nashville at 18, after a few years of traveling back and forth for songwriting sessions, she wanted to be the next Taylor Swift. And after landing a deal with Warner Nashville, earning nods from the likes of Lady A’s Hillary Scott, and attaining some chart success for debut single “Own It,” and the country-leaning 2017 EP, So Far, that followed, it certainly seemed like she was on that trajectory. But something happened in the five years since Bryan landed in Music City- she grew up, and realized her tastes and artistic ambitions were bigger than just being the next country pop star (not dissimilar to Swift herself, though Bailey’s latest sounds more Ariana than pop-era Taylor). Between Drake covers and a decidedly more pop and less-acoustic bent with her still country-rooted 2019 EP Perspective, it should’ve been obvious to anyone paying attention that Bryan was moving onto something new, but with her buzzworthy new album, the aptly titled Fresh Start, the now 23-year-old finally sounds like an artist coming into her own, and shedding expectation to embrace the art she truly wants to make in this moment. Self-described as “sensitive bad bitch” music, with echos of the aforementioned Ariana Grande, and well as Post Malone, Kehlani, and Ella Mai, who Bailey cites as big influences, and even some elements of ’90s r&b, Fresh Start retains Bailey’s skillful story-driven style, but updates her thematic focus to reflect the relationships and introspection and growth she’s experienced in her 20s. Flipping through her Spotify, it might be easy to assume that Bryan is simply chasing musical trends, but if you actually take the time to listen, the sincerity and personal touch is apparent, as is the organic evolution of her sound, and no one can make pop this genuine and personal and tastefully crafted if their heart isn’t truly in it (we hear enough of the formulaic stuff to know). For all intents and purposes, the Bailey Bryan of 2021 is a brand new artist, and one we’re thrilled to have as part of the local pop scene!
WATCH | “play w/ me”
LISTEN | “Perspective”