The No. 2 story of the year at Local Spins was a sad one: The vibrant leader of Southwest Michigan’s Dacia Bridges Project was found dead outside Traverse City, sparking tributes from across the globe.
Dacia Bridges was unlike any other Michigan artist.
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The dynamic singer and guitarist started as a break-dancer, became a chart-topping European pop star and lead vocalist for a German nu-metal act before returning to the United States a few years ago to front the all-female Kalamazoo super-group, the Dacia Bridges Project.
As she put it herself: “Stereotypes don’t work when it comes to me.”
The one-of-a-kind performer passed away unexpectedly Aug. 1 outside Traverse City, where she had played the Traverse City Film Festival’s opening night party with bandmate and drummer Carolyn Koebel.
Bridges, 45, was found unresponsive at 2 p.m. Aug. 1 at a residence in Acme Township where she was staying, according to Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Clark. She was declared dead at the scene.
An autopsy was conducted, but results weren’t being released, Clark said. Acquaintances later indicated that Bridges suffered a brain aneurysm.
Koebel said Bridges had been volunteering at the film festival and apparently was found after she missed a scheduled event.
The effervescent and upbeat performer, who was rebuilding her career after moving back to the United States, impacted almost everyone she met. As Koebel put it, she had “a field of dreams” and ventures to pursue.
“She was an amazing artist and had an incredible career to date, and we were just looking forward to launching the next chapter and finishing our album. We are in utter disbelief and heartache,” Koebel said.
“She was so ‘Pro’ – full of fire and delivery. She could put on a show on the level of Grace Jones. She was as good as anyone out there doing it.”
Surviving Bridges, who was divorced, is a young daughter, Billie Sky.
A native of Oscoda, Mich., Bridges ended up in Germany because her father was in the military and was stationed there. The singer spent 25 years overseas, establishing herself as a true stage star.
She said she moved stateside for family reasons, and after a brief stint in Nashville, returned to her native Michigan. She later teamed up with well-known musicians Cori Somers (Red Sea Pedestrians), Koebel (An Dro) and Sarah Fuerst (Corn Fed Girls, Thunderbolt & Lightfoot), to form The Dacia Bridges Project.
In a 2018 interview with Local Spins, Bridges said the band represented her “whole journey” musically, “from dance music to singer-songwriter, a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll, a little bit of edge, folky, it’s all in there. It’s emotional.”
Somers said she was in “complete shock” after learning the news. “Dacia was a sister to me,” she said.
‘BIGGER THAN LIFE’: A MEMORIAL EVENT DREW HUNDREDS IN KALAMAZOO
Many posted tributes to Bridges on Facebook after hearing the news, including Dan Lauterbur who wrote: “She was devoted to her daughter and family, passionate about her music, working hard on various projects and all the while a bright light for all around her. We had developed a meaningful connection, and I will miss our talks, our hugs, her laughter.”
Friends and musicians later organized a Sept. 1 tribute and memorial event at Jericho Corners in Kalamazoo to honor the legacy of the Southwest Michigan singer and musician. The event attracted hundreds of people and included performances by a variety of artists, with many sharing personal stories and testimonials about Bridges. (View photo galleries below.) Proceeds from the event went to a trust for Bridges’ young daughter, Billie Sky.
Bridges’ untimely passing drew tributes online from fans, friends and fellow musicians from the United States and Germany, where she had a successful music career for three decades:
• Aile Sheva: “Your laugh was so huge. You brought sunshine, happiness and laughter everywhere you went.”
• Katherine Heins: “Dacia was a friend and an inspiration. She will be missed terribly.”
• Katie Ford: “Dacia had an infectious light about her. Once you met her, you couldn’t help but bask in her positivity and high-energy spirit. She touched so many people’s lives in a way she’ll never know. She was also a queen and a warrior and fought hard for what she believed in and for the very best life possible for her amazing baby girl.”
• Michelle Brett: “She was a beautiful soul with a powerful voice and spirit. My heart goes out to her little one.”
• Susan Dilworth: “You were beautiful as an angel whenever our paths crossed. … Keep singing in heaven.”
• Alison Myers: “So young and full of life … She surely left a legacy and a lot of light in her wake.”
• Vika Votshek: “You were bigger than life.”
Read more about Bridges and watch videos of her performances here: ‘Unpredictable Child’: Dacia Bridges’ journey from German mega-star to rising Michigan act
DACIA BRIDGES: A PHOTO TRIBUTE
Photos by Derek Ketchum, Anthony Norkus
PHOTO GALLERY: Dacia Bridges Memorial at Jericho Corners
Photos by Derek Ketchum
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