A contemporary country artist with a honky tonk heart and a romantic streak, Bri Bagwell is one musician who has steered clear of the Nashville star-making machine — she works without a manager or a record contract, earning fans through extensive touring and her independently released recordings. Briana Bagwell was born and raised in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and showed a passion for music at an early age. When she was a teenager, she began making music with her siblings, and started thinking about music as a career. After graduating from high school, Bagwell moved to Austin, Texas, where she studied marketing at the University of Texas. When she wasn't busy with her studies, Bagwell began performing at local clubs in her spare time, and she started to make a name for herself in one of the busiest markets for live music in the United States.
After completing her degree, Bagwell put her focus squarely on music, and in 2011 she became a contestant on CMT's Next Superstar, a televised talent competition for country artists. Although she was eliminated during the fourth week of the show's ten-week run, it introduced Bagwell to a new and larger audience, and later that same year she self-released her first album, Banned from Santa Fe. As Bagwell continued to build her audience, touring regularly with her backing group the Banned, she landed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV's Nashville office. Several of the songs she wrote under her publishing deal were featured on a seven-song EP released in 2013, simply titled Bri Bagwell. Bagwell was named Female Vocalist of the Year by the Texas Regional Radio Music Awards in 2013, and she received the honor again in 2014.
In 2015, Bagwell released her second full-length album, When a Heart Breaks, including the song "My Boots," which became a breakout single in Texas. By this time, Bagwell and her band were playing as many as 150 dates a year, and her fame had grown to the point where she even endorsed her own line of yoga pants. The full-length In My Defense followed in 2018 and included the single "If You Were a Cowboy." ~ Mark Deming