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The 6 Biggest North Texas Music Stories of 2015

Here's a look back at the music stories that made the biggest waves in North Texas this year.

As we try to identify the people, trends, and events that made 2015 special, here’s a look back at some of the music stories that made the biggest waves in North Texas this year.

Leon Bridges Ascends: This June feature from the magazine covers how the sharp-dressed throwback soul singer from Crowley became the biggest thing to come out of North Texas since Norah Jones. Since then, Bridges’ star continued to rise with the release of his debut album, a globe-trotting tour that sold out venues from Dallas to London, and a series of high-profile television performances, including an appearance on Saturday Night Live. A Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album was just the cherry on top of a triumphant year. The fame hasn’t gone to his head — You’re still liable to find the 26-year-old singing in the streets of Deep Ellum.

The Bomb Factory Opens and Deep Ellum Continues to Come Back: The Bomb Factory, the 4,300-capacity venue that rose from the dead and (re)opened in Deep Ellum in March, eventually lived up to the hype and was the best music venue in Dallas in 2015. It’s the latest outward sign of Deep Ellum’s ongoing resurgence as a hub for live music and the arts in Dallas.

Dr. Dre's newest discovery: Garland's own Justin Mohrle. Photo by Anthony Blue Jr.
Dr. Dre’s newest discovery: Garland’s own Justin Mohrle. Photo by Anthony Blue Jr.

Dallas Hip-Hop Grabs the National Spotlight: There was The D.O.C., spurred by the success of the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton and the return of his voice to play his first show in more than 20 years. There was Justus, née Justin Mohrle, the Garland-raised rapper taken under the wing of Dr. Dre and featured prominently on this year’s Compton: A Soundtrack. There were articles like this by Mel Kyle of The Outfit, TX, one of several local acts working to make Dallas one of the biggest cities in hip-hop.

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Erykah Badu Reminds Everyone Why She’s the Queen: After five years without a full-length release, Badu unleashed the excellent communication-obsessed mixtape But You Caint Use My Phone at the end of November. With its “Hotline Bling” interpretation, its Drake impersonator, and its Andre 3000 collaboration, the mixtape landed the Dallas soul singer on her fair share of national publications’ end-of-year “best of” lists. Around the same time, she hosted BET’s Soul Train Awards. Her one-of-a-kind one-woman show, which premiered at the Black Academy of Arts and Letters in October, and her headlining slot at one of the year’s best concerts, further demonstrated why Badu remains one of Dallas’ greatest gifts to the world.

Oak Cliff Rallies for a Memorial to Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan: In April, Oak Cliff’s most famous son was finally inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Soon after that, efforts to erect a memorial to Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan in Kiest Park — within blocks of where the brothers grew up — began to come to fruition. The city agreed to cough up some of the money, and a fundraising effort spearheaded by filmmaker Kirby Warnock did the rest. The memorial isn’t just a fitting tribute to two legendary guitarists, or a thumbed nose aimed at Austin’s Stevie Ray Vaughan statue, although it is both those things. It’s a way for Dallas to claim its own cultural identity and celebrate its musical history. Artists have until Jan. 16 to submit their ideas for the piece. We have a modest proposal in mind.

Garth Brooks gave Dallas seven of the year's biggest concerts in six days. Photo by James Coreas.
Garth Brooks gave Dallas seven of the year’s biggest concerts in six days. Photo by James Coreas.

Garth Brooks Returns: A visit from the pope wouldn’t have generated as much excitement as the news that country mega star Garth Brooks would be coming to Dallas for his first live performances here in 17 years. Brooks’ sold-out-or-close-to-it six-night run at the American Airlines Center gave Dallas seven of the year’s biggest concerts in less than a week.

Also worth remembering: