Brandon Cunningham isn’t a spinner of tall tales. This is where he diverges from the path traveled by most traditional folk singers. He’d just as soon skip the bullshit and get right to the substance: the tensions that lie between love and loss, chance and meaning, brokenness and redemption. These are the ideas and experiences that occupy his mind, the inner dialogue that is captured in his songs: finding the meaning within those tensions, and the hope that lies just beyond them.
Cunningham has always been the quiet, contemplative type—but he didn’t always look to music as a vehicle for his thoughts. Growing up in Texas, he sang in the gospel choir (ask him about the time he opened for M.C. Hammer), and he learned how to strum a six-string as a teenager. But music was never particularly personal for him—until he heard Bon Iver at age 19.
Something about those first few songs he heard made a strong impact, stitching together feeling and experience in a way that resonated more deeply than anything he’d heard before. He started thinking about music as a vehicle for capturing his own thoughts and experiences. He started writing.
Pretty soon he had enough songs under his belt—originals and covers—to take the stage. He got two friends together, and played his first show. It was terrible. Truly awful. But he loved it. He was hooked.
Brandon has journeyed many miles since those first steps, both literally and figuratively. Propelled by restlessness, compelled by truth, he is convinced that while tension and pain are often the markers and milestones of this life, all roads can ultimately lead to renewal. That is a choice we can all make. And while we must live with the tension long enough to know it, the call of life is to find the meaning and hope beyond it. That’s what Cunningham is constantly seeking. His songs reflect that spirit. His music is a documentation of that journey.
Bon Iver, Ryan Adams, Sigur Ros, Neil Young, Night Beds, Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens, AA Bondy, The National, Sharon Van Etten.