The alchemy of a successful musical collaboration can leave you shaking your head in wonder at times. Who would think to pair a Latin-rock guitarist who grew up on punk and hip-hop with a busker who loves 50 Cent to form a psychedelic soul band that recalls R&B greats such as Curtis Mayfield, Al Green and Marvin Gaye? It might not have happened at all if a friend of guitarist Adrian Quesada hadn’t suggested he reach out to singer Eric Burton to try him on some instrumentals he had written. A phone call led to a studio session and the first Black Pumas tracks were laid down. Burton cut his teeth busking on the Santa Monica Pier before moving to Austin, Texas. He brought “Colors” with him, a joyful celebration of diversity in the world, one of the most memorable songs on the band’s self-titled 2019 debut album. Quesada, a veteran of Grammy-winning Latin-fusion CFMF alum band Grupo Fantasma, who once backed Prince for a string of shows, adds some especially tasty surf guitar lines. The Black Pumas established themselves as a dynamic live band in clubs around Austin’s robust music scene early on and now tour with two female backup singers and keyboards along with guitar, bass and drums. Their relentless schedule had them in Colombia for the Festival Estereo Picnic the night Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins died. It was the Black Pumas who were tasked to inform the crowd, proving the healing power of soul will get us all through.
Biography by Sean Myers