Black Pumas: 5 Things to Know About the 2020 Best New Artist Grammy Nominees

Black Pumas
Merrick Ales

Black Pumas

When the 2020 Grammy nominations were announced on Wednesday morning (Nov. 20), a few unfamiliar names stood out among the pack of best new artist nominees. One is Black Pumas. 

The rising duo -- comprised of frontman Eric Burton and producer Adrian Quesada -- will be competing against the likes of Billie Eilish, Lizzo and Lil Nas X come Jan. 26.

Ahead of next year's ceremony, Billboard is breaking down five things you need to know about the Austin, Tex.-based act. 

Check out all of the nominations here, and learn about Black Pumas below.

1. Black Pumas' music is hard to categorize.

Described as a funk-soul duo, Black Pumas refuse to let their songs be put into a tidy box. While Burton was raised on gospel music and musical theater as a child, the band fuses soul music with Latin and hip-hop influences to create a wholly unique sound. Since forming in 2017, the duo has opened for everyone from Anderson East to St. Paul & the Broken Bones

2. Their self-titled debut album was released earlier this year.

Signed to ATO Records, the band released their senusal debut single, "Black Moon Rising," in 2018. Their debut LP, Black Pumas, followed this summer, featuring nine more tracks including the moody, atmospheric "Colors" and punchy, horn-blasted "Fire."

3. The band cut their teeth on the Austin music scene.

Hailing from Texas' capital city, Black Pumas first gained traction performing in downtown Austin. Earlier this year, they made their debut at SXSW, playing six sets over the course of the festival, and also took home the trophy for best new band at the 2019 Austin Music Awards.

4. Burton got his start as a street performer.

Originally growing up in California's San Fernando Valley, vocalist Burton got his start as a street performer busking on the Santa Monica Pier. After moving to Austin, he continued performing and was eventually introduced to Quesada, who was looking for a vocalist for what would eventually become Black Pumas, through a mutual friend in 2017.

5. Quesada is no stranger to the Grammys stage.

Continuing the Recording Academy's long tradition of murky rules surrounding who can qualify in the best new artist category, Black Pumas is actually acclaimed producer Quesada's latest project in a successful music career. In 2008, he earned his first Grammy nomination as part of nine-piece Latin funk orchestra Grupo Fantasma, whose album Sonidos Gold was up for best Latin rock or alternative album at the 51st annual ceremony. Two years later, Quesada and the band took home the award for best Latin rock, alternative or urban album for their 2010 follow-up El Existential

2020 Grammy Awards


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