She’s a social media singing sensation who has now evolved into one of the bestselling and most buzzed about artists in urban music. The passionate voice of Briana “Bri” Babineaux has taken cyberspace by storm. On New Year’s Day 2016 she posted a singing video on Facebook that amassed over 4 million views in a few weeks and a recent Facebook posting of her singing “He’s Able” on a couch has surpassed it and snatched over 7 million views within a single week. Rhianna, Brandy and Drake are a few of her nearly half million Instagram followers and Bri’s much-anticipated inaugural album ‘Keys To My Heart‘ (Marquis Boone Enterprises, LLC/Tyscot Records, LLC) topped Billboard Magazine’s Gospel Albums sales chart this past Spring. Her debut radio single “I’ll Be The One’ was a Top Ten radio airplay hit and cinched the top spot on Billboard’s Gospel Digital sales chart. Bri’s new self-penned radio single “Jacob’s Song” – an uplifting ballad – is destined to follow suit and expand her ever-increasing audience.
Bri’s journey to the top started on the island of Hawaii where she was born August 26, 1994. Her father was stationed there during his stint with The Marines but he moved his family back to his hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana when Bri was three months old. Bri’s parents broke up when she was two years old and she was later raised by her mother and stepfather who is a pastor at Refuge Temple Ministries in the city. She began to sing in the church at the age of five as a member of choirs and praise teams and continues to do so to this day. It was just something she did for fun at the time. “I never planned to become a professional singer,” she laughs. Instead, she was a gifted athlete, excelling in basketball and volleyball at the city’s Northside High School. Bri eventually earned a track scholarship to McNeese State University but after a semester she lost interest in running and moved on to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette as a criminal justice major. “At that point I was focused on becoming an attorney,” she says.
Then, fate entered. Last fall Bri was in a depressed state after a romantic breakup when some friends encouraged her to go out with them to get her mind off of her heartache. They were fooling around when she started to sing Tonex’s “Make Me Over”. One of her friends posted a camera phone video of it on YouTube around 3:00 AM and within hours her riveting cover had gone viral. “I guess I was releasing all of my hurt and emotion out through the song,” Bri recalls. That one video kicked off the #Brination phenomenon and her new fans began to request that she sing specific songs. She began to cover a variety of songs on social media and with each new video her fan base increased to the point that Bri was being courted by some of the top R&B producers to sign with their major label companies, but there was a problem. “I didn’t want to sing R&B,” she confesses. “I really don’t even listen to much R&B music. If I was going to sing for anybody, I wanted to sing for God.”
Bri ended up signing with Marquis Boone Enterprises, LLC, which already experienced tremendous success launching the career of former elementary school teacher Casey J who’s break-out song “Fill Me Up” spent fourteen non-consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard Gospel AirPlay chart and anchored her first album ‘The Truth‘ (Marquis Boone Enterprises, LLC/Tyscot Records, LLC) that peaked at #1* on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums Chart in the Spring of 2015. After spending time with Bri and getting to know her heart and soul, Marquis Boone began to get a feel of what kind of album he wanted to create around her voice and then he partnered with Tyscot Music & Entertainment to bring his vision to life.
Korey Bowie, an independent artist himself and multi-instrumentalist who has worked with the likes of R&B veteran Angie Stone as well as Casey J and soulful crooner Darwin Hobbs, produced the twelve-track set that skillfully seals the fissures separating Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers with a pool of songs that have wide and distinctive appeal.
Recorded live at Doppler Studios in Atlanta to an invitation-only audience of family, friends and fans, the collection reveals the keys to Bri’s heart. There are up-tempo 21st century power anthems such as the rousing “Heaven Must Be Something Like This” and the pulsating “Lord of All” which both show off Bri’s most fiery and raspy vocal wails on the climatic vamps of these engaging sing-a-long selections.
At her core, Bri is a worshipper and smooth cuts such as “Holy Spirit,” “Set A Fire” and the plaintive “Love You Forever” showcase her love for this sub-genre of gospel music. There are also tunes with crossover possibilities such as “Run Over” which can find a home on Inspirational radio formats and the smooth as silk “My Everything” has Adult R&B/Urban AC radio written all over it.
A particularly compelling segment of the set is Bri’s first composition, the rock-edged “Jacob’s Song” and it’s explosive reprise “I’m Desperate.” Veteran recording artist Bryan Andrew Wilson wrote the beautifully warm, stripped-down ballad “Grace” with her in mind. Christian Hip-Hop star Uncle Reece crafted the uplifting paean “Love You Forever” that Bri sings with intimate zeal and deep understanding.
All in all, it’s a very personal album with the ability to move many personalities. “We can go day after day and smile like we’re okay in front of people but God sees the heart,” Bri confesses. “He sees the things we have hidden in our hearts whether it’s emotional pain, scars or anger. He wants total access. He wants the keys to open up the door to our hearts and once that door is open He can then uncover the hidden things and we can release them from our lives and then God can began to heal our hearts. I allowed God to have total access to my heart and once I did that I was able to release all the hurts I’ve experienced. I named the album ‘Keys To My Heart’ because each song is a testimony from an experience that I faced whether it was good or bad. Through this album, I’m letting #Brination have access to what was in my heart when I gave God the keys.”
Photo Credit :: Artist Management