Come enjoy a powerful and heartfelt dose of music medicine as Erick Baker bears his roots in Country, Folk, Soul and Blues into one seamless sound Saturday Aug. 27 on the Granary Stage.
Erick Baker is an Emmy Award-winning writer, TV show host, and singer-songwriter. For over a decade, he’s been making a life as a touring musician, performing nationally and internationally alongside artists like John Legend, Brandi Carlile, Heart, Gavin Degraw, Grace Potter, and the Goo Goo Dolls.
Known for his aching intensity, passion, and unguarded emotional energy, Erick’s live performances are a powerful example of what can be accomplished through song. His voice has been described as “a smoke and whiskey tenor with plenty of range and emotion” with “his acoustic guitar serving as rhythm and background to the swell of his voice.”
Drawing comparisons to contemporary songwriters like Ray Lamontagne, Amos Lee, and Ryan Adams, Erick Baker is a true heart on his sleeve troubadour of soulful Americana.
Like a worn diary of weathered but wise pages, Erick’s songs are passionate confessions that reflect many of our own deeply rooted experiences, opening a door into each of our lives through the cracks of our hearts. His lyrics give an honest voice to his emotions, and they speak to anyone who needs an understanding voice for their own.
Erick didn’t grow up singing or playing music. He’s never had voice lessons, and it wasn’t until after graduating from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Communications that he taught himself how to play guitar.
His performance career began in the smoky corners of Knoxville’s pubs and bars, singing cover songs for distracted drunks and underage college students. He didn’t write his first original song until he was 23, but the message of Erick’s music quickly started to spread.
Baker’s rise began in 2007 after an unexpected opportunity to open for John Legend at Knoxville’s Historic Tennessee Theatre. At the time, he was in graduate school, working on a master’s degree in English and waiting tables at night, but the direction of his life was about to dramatically change.
“I went from performing for 15 people who could care less to a sold-out theatre of over 1500, who intently listened to every song I played,” Baker says. “The guy who walked on stage that night wasn’t the same guy that walked off. Six songs in just thirty minutes changed my life forever.”
A few months later, after dropping out of graduate school, he found himself in the basement of a Knoxville recording studio, working on his first album.
“Before I made my first record, my wife Mandy and I were newly engaged. We’d just bought our first house and were planning a wedding, along with a future family. We were barely scraping by each month, and I had the bright idea to record an album. At the time, we didn’t know if anyone would even listen, or if we’d ever break even on the recording costs. But, staring all of our responsibilities in the face, we made the decision to spend every dime that we had to record my first six songs.”
Erick burst onto the scene in 2008 with his debut EP It’s Getting Too Late To Say It’s Early, recorded with Grammy-nominated producer Travis Wyrick (Dolly Parton/Toby Mac) of Lakeside Studios. The album’s early success led to a string of significant shows with James Blunt and Gavin Degraw, as well as back-to-back appearances at the Bonnaroo Music Festival, quickly transitioning him from a virtual unknown to a nationally recognized act.
Erick’s sophomore record, Holding The Pieces In Place, was released in early 2010, anchored by the song “Unbroken Promise”, which received heavy rotation on Sirius XM’s The Coffeehouse. Soon after, he signed with William Morris Endeavor in Nashville, TN, and landed a month-long run of shows opening solo acoustic for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band Heart, culminating into a sold-out performance at the legendary Ryman Auditorium.
In 2012, on the heels of his first European tour, he released Goodbye June, produced by Ken Coomer (Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, Steve Earl, Emmy Lou Harris). Over the next two years, the Tennessee songwriter quickly built a grassroots following while performing alongside artists like Brandi Carlile, the Goo Goo Dolls, Daughtry, Marc Broussard, Grace Potter, Chris Isaak, Nanci Griffith, Will Hoge, and Edwin McCain, as well as touring through Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, performing for our men and women in uniform stationed overseas.
However, his success came at a cost, and by late 2013, life on the road was taking its toll. While his career had never been better, his personal life had never been worse.
“First words were being spoken, first steps taken, and it was all passing me by like road signs on the highway,” says Baker. “At home, waiting for me, was the life that I’d dreamed of, and I was missing it, and sadly, the two people I was working hardest to protect, were the ones getting hurt the most. Suddenly, success as a singer-songwriter didn’t seem nearly as important, especially if it meant failing as a husband and father.”
In January of 2014, burned out by years of constant touring, Erick chose to put down his guitar and pick up the pieces of his personal life. He took a break from recording and touring and made the choice to refocus on his family. Erick didn’t know if he’d ever record another song. But what seemed to be the end of his music career at the time, was actually just the spark to a whole new beginning.
Erick became the host of the PBS travel series Tennessee Valley Uncharted, an Emmy Award-winning television show that follows Erick on outdoor adventures and must-try travel experiences across the seven southern states of the Tennessee Valley. A small-town Tennessee native with roots in West Tennessee and a home in East Tennessee, Erick is now getting the opportunity to rediscover how great the Tennessee Valley is one adventure at a time.
“I believe our lives are full of uncharted places, and this show is all about exploring them because you never know where they may lead you,” Baker says. “You never know…A place you’ve never been, might be right where you are supposed to be.”
In one of the greatest honors of his career, Erick later won an Emmy Award for his writing on the show in 2017.
Inspired by his second chance with his wife Mandy, Erick released his fourth LP Dear Amanda, relaunching him onto the music scene. In an effort to maintain a balance between career and family, he chose to make music the family business and embarked on his “Back Where It All Began” house concert tour. Over the last few years, he’s played hundreds of shows and traveled thousands of miles in cramped SUVs and worn out RVs with his wife and daughter by his side. For the first time, his music is finally bringing his family together, instead of pulling them apart.
“A friend of mine once told me that at the end of the day, life is all about experiences. When you look back, it’s not about what you have, but what you did,” says Baker. “I see my music as a celebration of every right turn and wrong turn that has led me here, and not a day goes by that I don’t give thanks for that old wooden box with six strings.”
Today, success shows no signs of slowing down with Erick’s latest album Morning Light. Released in 2020, Morning Light is his most ambitious record yet. Produced by Will Carter (NEEDTOBREATHE) and recorded at Eleanor Studios in Knoxville, TN, Morning Light is an inspired collection of soulful anthems centered on making the most of the moment.
“The road here has not been easy, but over the last few years, I’ve learned that if you look hard enough, shadows always show us the light.” Says Baker. “Morning Light is a celebration of over 10 years of making music and of what I hope is the beginning of the next 10. So, here’s to the hope that keeps us holding on and to never losing sight of the things that are truly important. Here’s to the promise and possibility of each NEW DAY. Here’s to the beauty of the present moment and to trying our best to make the most of it.”
When he’s not on the road touring or filming, Erick lives in Knoxville, Tennessee with his wife, Mandy, his daughter, Annabelle Rose, and their Goldendoodle, Sunny Day.