2024 marks the 50th Anniversary of Austin City Limits, kicking off a yearlong celebration saluting five decades of iconic performances. The trailblazing series is thrilled to announce the initial tapings of milestone Season 50, featuring an all-star slate of returning favorites: Eight-time Grammy nominees, Austin’s own Black Pumas make their long-awaited return on February 20 supporting their acclaimed sophomore release Chronicles of a Diamond; Colombian superstar Juanes returns to the ACL stage for the first time in over a decade on March 4, making his third appearance with songs from his smash Vida Cotidiana; Austin native/hometown hero Gary Clark Jr. returns March 26 for his fourth appearance to preview his powerful new offering JPEG RAW; and celebrated singer-songwriter Brittany Howard takes the ACL stage for her second solo headlining performance on April 29 to showcase her upcoming album What Now.
When Black Pumas released their star-making self-titled debut in 2019, the Austin-bred soul duo set off a reaction almost as combustible and rapturous as their unbridled breed of psychedelic soul. Along with earning an astounding seven Grammy Award nominations (including Album Of The Year) and critical acclaim, singer/songwriter Eric Burton and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada achieved massive success as a sensational live act, delivering a transcendent show Burton aptly refers to as “electric church.” The band’s meteoric rise saw them playing thrilling sold-out shows across North and South America and Europe and selling more than one million albums worldwide. Their breakout single “Colors,” a gold-certified anthem that resonated with audiences across the globe, received over 450 million streams. In creating the follow-up to one of the most celebrated debuts in recent years, the band broadened their sonic palette to include a dazzling expanse of musical forms: heavenly hybrids of soul and symphonic pop, mind-bending excursions into jazz-funk and psychedelia, and starry-eyed love songs that feel dropped down from the cosmos. Chronicles of a Diamond harnesses the lightning-in-a-bottle chemistry between Burton (a self-taught musician who got his start busking on beaches and subway platforms in his native Los Angeles) and Grammy Award-winning Quesada. Wilder and weirder and more extravagantly composed than its predecessor, Chronicles of a Diamond arrives as the fullest expression yet of Black Pumas’ frenetic creativity and limitless vision, bringing their singular vision to life with more power, passion, and daring originality than ever before. Pumas have already earned a 2024 Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance for the record’s irresistible opening track “More Than a Love Song,” along with widespread praise: “One of the most moving things about this record is his (Burton’s) voice…” says NPR Music, adding it’s, “a little trippy, [and] a little gritty.” and the Austin American-Statesman declares “it will go down in history as one of the defining soul albums of our generation.”
Juanes’ critically-acclaimed 10th studio album Vida Cotidiana (Everyday Life), his first album of original material in four years, is also his most personal, with the global icon reflecting on topics ranging from love, marriage, family, social concerns and more. The career highlight has earned press raves including NPR, Billboard, Rolling Stone and Variety declaring Vida Cotidiana among ‘The Best Latin Music of 2023’ and Juanes achieves a new creative pinnacle in his distinguished two-decade career. Juanes recently received his 25th career LATIN GRAMMY award (extending the Colombian music icon’s status as The Latin Recording Academy’s most honored solo artist of all time). He also received a 2024 GRAMMY nomination for “Best Latin Rock Or Alternative Album,” his ninth career nomination. An electrifying guitarist and gifted songwriter, with a staggering 30 million albums sold worldwide, Juanes admits, “I think this is my best album as a musician, composer and performer. All my previous experiments were certainly valid—getting out of your safe zone and feeling uncomfortable can provide a transformative experience. But this new session returns to the places that are closely connected with my essence.” From the somber power-rock chords of “Gris” and the funky accents of the politically charged “Canción Desaparecida,” to the stately orchestral touches of “Mayo” and the infectious vibes of “Cecilia”—the Latin chart-topping duet with Dominican master Juan Luis Guerra informed by the spiraling grooves of Cuban son and Afrobeats—Vida Cotidiana confirms Juanes as one of the most soulful practitioners of sterling Latin pop-rock in the game. The superstar brings his widely praised Vida Cotidiana World Tour to the U.S. in early 2024, as The LA Times declares, “‘Juanes’ live show is… a daring rock production… and a ‘don’t miss’ event. His concerts confirm Juanes as the rare artist — in company with the likes of U2, and Bruce Springsteen — with the power to inspire beyond the [venue] walls.”
Anyone who has listened to a Gary Clark Jr. album or watched the four-time Grammy Award winner perform live knows that he’s a gifted multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and performer. And never more so than on his last album, 2019’s illuminating This Land. But while This Land signaled a breakthrough in displaying his musical versatility beyond the blues, his fourth studio album,JPEG RAW, represents a quantum leap. “Blues will always be my foundation,” says Clark. “But that’s just scratching the surface. I’m also a beat maker and an impressionist who likes to do different voices. I’ve always loved theater and being able to tell a story. At home when I play the trumpet, I think Lee Morgan, or John Coltrane when I play the sax. I’ve even got bagpipes just in case I need them. So while this is my most honest and vulnerable album about relating to the human condition, it’s also the most freeing.” The album’s title track—an acronym for Jealousy, Pride, Envy, Greed … Rules, Alter Ego, Worlds—examines the role cell-phone society plays in this chaos at the expense of real-life, one-on-one interaction. “I don’t love having a mobile device,” explains Clark of the song’s origin and the album’s overarching theme. “I miss being able to have more genuine interaction, looking someone in the eyes and learning something, getting a perspective. JPEG RAW is about showing the real and not the edit. We live in a world of edits, filters and redos. We only get one shot.” “When the album sequencing was finished, the band and I realized that we’d made an album into a movie,” he recalls. “That’s what I was going for sonically because that’s how the whole writing process played out. First, it’s about angst and confusion, the unknown. Next, it’s about looking at ourselves internally. And then it’s about what comes after: the hope and triumph.”
There’s a double meaning to the title of What Now, the revelatory new album from singer/songwriter Brittany Howard. “With the world we’re living in now, it feels like we’re all just trying to hang onto our souls,” says the Nashville-based musician and frontwoman for four-time Grammy Award-winning Alabama Shakes. “Everything seems to be getting more extreme and everyone keeps wondering, ‘What now? What’s next?’ By the same coin, the only constant on this record is you never know what’s going to happen next: every song is its own aquarium, its own little miniature world built around whatever I was feeling and thinking at the time.” With five Grammy wins and sixteen nominations, Howard follows up her massively acclaimed solo debut Jaime—a 2019 LP that landed on best-of-the-year lists from the likes of Pitchfork, The New York Times and Rolling Stone – with What Now, drawing an immense and indelible power from endless unpredictability. Over the course of its 12 tracks, Howard brings her singular musicality to a shapeshifting sound encompassing everything from psychedelia and dance music to dream-pop and avant-jazz—a fitting backdrop for an album whose lyrics shift from unbridled outpouring to incisive yet radically idealistic commentary on the state of the human condition. Anchored in Howard’s inimitable and infinitely commanding voice—a supreme vessel for channeling raw emotional truth—the record is at turns galvanizing, cathartic, and wildly soul-expanding, and the result is a monumental step forward for one of the most essential artists of our time. “I think the gift I bring is to help people to be more introspective and ask themselves questions,” says Howard. “With a little self-examination, we can learn to be kinder, more compassionate, more understanding of each other. We can see that a lot of us are going through the same shit, and we all just want to be seen for who we really are.”
We’re thrilled to welcome these incredible artists to the ACL stage to launch our milestone season. Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes a week in advance of each taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings. The broadcast episodes will air on PBS this fall as part of our upcoming Season 50.