Multi-instrumentalist Bridget Kearney has created an eclectic body of work that reflects a wide range of influences, including funk, R&B, vintage soul, jazz, pop, and world music.
Best known as the bassist with the popular retro-soul combo Lake Street Dive, she has also collaborated with a number of other acts, as well as recording as a solo artist. Though she's recognized for her fluid, funky bass work with Lake Street Dive, Kearney's first solo album, 2017's Won't Let You Down, gave her a chance to show off her talent as a singer, as well as writing tunes that encompassed pop, rock, and soul. Her 2020 collaboration with Benjamin Lazar Davis, Still Flying, was a playful and groove-laden experiment that grafted electronics and dance rhythms onto melodies from West African musicians.
Born in Iowa City, Iowa, on June 10, 1985, Bridget Kearney was introduced to music when she became a member of the youth choir at the Lutheran Church her family attended. When she was five years old, Kearney started taking piano lessons, and while she was in the fourth grade, she took up the double bass. The bass became her instrument of choice, and in high school she played in orchestra and jazz band while also gigging with a local rock group. After completing high school, Kearney studied jazz at the New England Conservatory of Music (she also enrolled at Tufts University, majoring in English), and during her years at the Conservatory, she played in a variety of groups, including the rootsy indie pop act Joy Kills Sorrow (she recorded two albums with them in 2010 and 2011), an experimental folk-pop group known as Cuddle Magic (she appeared on three of their albums between 2007 and 2011), and the Fundies, which also featured singer and songwriter Margaret Glaspy (they brought out an EP in 2012). However, it was Lake Street Dive, which Kearney helped put together in her second year at NECM, that would become her most popular project. Formed in 2004, Lake Street Dive brought out their first album, In This Episode, in 2007, and by 2018 they had issued six full-length albums, including two (Side Pony and Free Yourself Up) for Nonesuch Records.
During her downtime from Lake Street Dive, Kearney worked with other musicians, penning songs for Margaret Glaspy's solo projects and playing sessions with banjo player Bill Evans and the contemporary folk duo the Brother Brothers. In 2015, Kearney teamed with her former Cuddle Magic bandmate Benjamin Lazar Davis (who later worked with Joan as Police Woman and Okkervil River) to make an EP, BAWA, that was recorded in Ghana and reflected their passion for African musical forms. 2017 saw the release of Won't Let You Down, Kearney's first solo album, which found her playing bass, guitar, and keyboards as well as singing lead. In 2020, Kearney and Davis unveiled a second collaboration, Still Flying, which like BAWA was recorded in Ghana using a portable recording rig, and included contributions from Stevo Atambire, a virtuoso on the two-string instrument called the kologo. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi