Black Pumas booking

Sometimes, a life-changing connection can be closer than you think. In 2017, singer and songwriter Eric Burton made his way from California to Texas. Born in the San Fernando Valley, he grew up singing in church and then got heavily involved in musical theater. He started busking at the Santa Monica Pier,bringing in a few hundred dollars a day and honing his performance skills. He then traveled through the Western states, and upon settling down in Austin, TX, set up his busking spot on a downtown street corner at 6th Street and Congress for maximum exposure.

Meantime, Grammy Award-winning guitarist and producer Adrian Quesada was looking to collaborate with someone new. He reached out to friends in Los Angeles and London, but nothing seemed right. A mutual friend mentioned Burton to Quesada, saying that he was the best singer he had ever heard. The two musicians initially connected but Burton took a while to respond "My friends were like 'Dude, you're a mad man, you need to hit that guy back!.'" Finally, he called Quesada and sang to him over the phone. Quesada was immediately struck, recalling "I loved his energy, his vibe, and I knew it would be incredible on record..from the moment I heard him on the phone, I was all about it."

Quesada had a storied reputation from playing in bands like Grupo Fantasma and Brownout, accompanying artists from Prince to Daniel Johnston, and producing such acclaimed projects as 2018's Look At My Soul: The Latin Shade Of Texas Soul. For the tracks that kicked off this project, though, he recollects he had a different direction in mind "I was looking for somebody with their own identity, who liked Neil Young as much as Sam Cooke." Burton proved to be exactly what Quesada was seeking in a collaborator.

With their taste, energy and enthusiasm aligned, the duo bounced off of each other and were, as Quesada said, "on the same wavelength from the get-go." The first day they got together in the studio, they wrote and recorded the dusty funk that would become the Black Pumas' first two singles, "Black Moon Rising" and "Fire." Quesada had produced the music for "Black Moon Rising" on the day of the 2017 solar eclipse, and Burton took that concept and ran with it. "Right away, the hair stood up on the back of my neck," says Quesada, "I knew, 'This is it -- this is the guy.'"

The results of that inauspicious beginning can now be heard on the acclaimed 2019 self-titled debut album from Black Pumas, the group that Burton and Quesada assembled. The duo knew that they didn't want their sound to be too retro or imitative. Both heavily influenced by a wide array of genres, such as East Coast hip-hop, old soul, and folk music, the two artists wanted to honor their roots, with a twist. "We didn't want to just do throwback soul and pretend that hip-hop never happened," says Quesada. "It had to feel sincere coming from us. I have a certain aesthetic in the studio, Eric has a voice that evokes a certain era, but I don't think we reference that too directly."

With Black Pumas having evolved from an idea to a session and eventually an album, they decided to put a band together to see how the music sounded live. They booked a residency at Austin's C-Boy's Heart & Soul. "We only rehearsed twice, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into," says Quesada. "But with the first show, we knew it was unique, special -- the chemistry and fire were there immediately. And what Eric could do as a frontman was like nothing I'd ever seen." As word got out, the C-Boy's shows turned into a local phenomenon ("the hottest party in town," according to the Austin American-Statesman), with lines around the block despite the fact that the band had only released one song. That strong local support led to Black Pumas being awarded Best New Band at the 2019 Austin Music Awards.

The release of Black Pumas, the album, was followed by an incredible breakout year, crowned by the duo's nomination for Best New Artist at the 2020 Grammys alongside the likes of Lizzo, Billie Eilish, and Lil Nas X, and earning the "Emerging Act of the Year" Award from the 2020 Americana Music Association. The trajectory has been on the rise ever since, with the Deluxe Edition of Black Pumas in 2020 receiving three additional 2021 Grammy Award Nominations for "Album of the Year," "Record of the Year," and "Best American Roots Performance." Later that year, the band would go on to record a special live album entitled Capitol Cuts -- Live from Studio A, earning Black Pumas two more 2022 Grammy nominations for "Best Rock Album" and "Best Rock Performance."

In addition to their numerous Grammy nominations, Black Pumas performed at the 2021 Biden-Harris Inauguration, and brought their incredible live show to audiences everywhere through appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Good Morning America, Ellen, and more. In just a couple of years' time, the duo turned their unplanned meeting into a Grammy-nominated act with songs that have racked up hundreds of millions of streams including 275 million for "Colors" alone, sold 600,000 album equivalents, won overwhelming critical praise and sold-out multiple tours across North America and Europe.

Quesada and Burton both return, over and over, to the almost mystical connection they felt from the beginning. It's this sense of common purpose, of shared vision, that gives Black Pumas its focus and power -- and that points to even more great things ahead.

"It's so seamless, it's like we're musical brothers to some degree," says Burton "It feels so easy to meld together that what's most important for us now is to continue to look for new sounds -- to make sure we're feeding ourselves the knowledge to continue to evolve. Every time we get together, it's better than the last time."

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Agents Joe Atamian
Paige Maloney

Exclusive Booking Agency for Black Pumas: North & South America