Emanuel J Burton Reflects on a great year 

20th December 2018

BIMM Manchester drum student Emanuel J Burton has had an amazing 12 months. Whilst studying his BA Hons Degree in Professional Musicianship, he’s curated drum clinics with Rico Nichols & Brian Frasier-Moore, headlined his own solo show, performed a residency with Misha B and toured with Children of Zeus. We spoke to the young drummer to hear all about his incredible year. 

Hey Emanuel, can you give us a rundown of the various gigs/tours you’ve had throughout 2018.

My first solo headline show. This was a thrill. I never thought I’d have my own solo headline show this early on in my career. It was a blessing and an honour to express myself to a crowd of people. I have to give a special thanks to BeeLive for booking me and for seeing me as more than just a session drummer for other artists.







Misha B – This was a 5-day Residency at Boisdale of Canary Wharf. This was super fun and character building! We performed jazz and soul standards for the first 2 days and then we performed her original material for the rest of the week which was a blast. Misha is an incredible songwriter, performer and human being. She is going to be worldwide next year!






Children of Zeus took me on a UK Tour as their DJ! This gave me a real taste of tour life and I learnt some valuable lessons that I will never forget. They are two great guys that are not only incredible musicians, but they are wonderful people and I appreciate them so much!

Tobi Sunmola is one of the most unique sounds we have currently have in the UK! He gave me the call to be his MD and drummer for his 2-day mini-tour in London & Manchester. This was my first-time re-arranging tracks on Logic for a live performance, which was challenging. We performed as a 2 piece. Both days sold out and the energy was surreal. We recently performed at a Reebok x JD event in East London, that was pretty epic and a great experience!


I put on a few of my own events this year with some of my favourite musicians, which was a big achievement for me. The first two were with Brian Frasier Moore (Justin Timberlake) and Rico Nichols (Kendrick Lamar) and my most recent one was with George “Spanky” McCurdy (Ms. Lauryn Hill). I organised a jam session which sold out with over 200+ people and we had special guests like Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles turn up to jam! This was a legendary moment.

Dami Sule is another Manchester artist that I MD and drum for. We performed at Band on The Wall early in the year and we also did a Sofar Manchester session. These gigs were fun and great milestones to my career!



[ K S R ] is a young soul artist that I MD and drum for. We supported Yazmin Lacey at The Deaf Institute. Yazmin is a future jazz legend and it was super fun to be on the line-up performing to a sold-out crowd! Throughout the year we had our own shows and also performed at festival.

Of course, I can’t forget the BIMM End of term gigs, I performed at the O2 Ritz and Gorilla with my peer bands, two of the most prestigious music venues in Manchester! I can admit that performing at these events for my first gigs really motivated me to do the same outside of Uni and made me hungrier to network and achieve my goals.



Can you tell us what your main highlights have been this year?

I thank God for allowing me to be alive to even have a year of highlights! Wow, the highlight for me would have to be my first headline solo performance. I was super nervous and worried that I wouldn’t be able to deliver an interesting show. I get bored of hearing myself drum for after 20 minutes, so how could I keep a whole crowd engaged for that long? I managed to build a show that got real good feedback, so I’m super motivated to continue that venture and maybe start singing while I play like Anderson.Paak, haha!

I also performed at Giles Peterson’s house for a Brownswood Basement Session in London with Aaliyah Esprit. That was an iconic moment for me, knowing that greats like Roy Ayers have performed there too. I also got to attend some cool shows, Robert Glasper at Rich Mix London, Faith Evans, Angie Stone, Travis Scott, Justin Timberlake, Jason Derulo, Tom Misch, Yussef Dayes, T-Pain, Lalah Hathaway, Rag’n’Bone Man and JP Cooper! It’s been a good year for gigs.

How have you found it balancing your studies and practice routine with a busy work schedule?

Very tough, I have to be honest. I’ve been blessed to make great connections in the music industry and start my professional career whilst studying. However, in order to stay on top of University, you have to be engaged and get to your lectures. I’ve been able to get my assignments and assessments done, which has been a grind! Due to shows around the country and rehearsals, it forced me to have to miss uni a lot.

Thankfully, BIMM is very supportive and my tutors understand my ventures. I just have to check in and catch up with work, which I do. I have great peers around me that help me stay on track and keep me informed with what’s going on whilst I’m away. As an aspiring musician, it’s important to get your foot in the door in the music industry. Essentially, that’s why we all come to uni; to build connections and get that chance to change our lives! So, when the opportunities come, you have to take it and learn to build the balance over time. Balance is key and I can’t thank BIMM enough for the support and resources given to me in order to excel in the music industry. I’m still a work in progress!

What plans do you have for 2019?

  • Go on a UK and world tour as a drummer.
  • Become a go to MD for live music events in Manchester.
  • Create and Release an EP or Single.
  • I’d love to do an NPR, BBC 1XTRA Live Session and Jools Holland.
  • Have my own logo and business brand.
  • Perform at a Drum Show

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James Watts

Social Media Assistant, Professional Bassist and Music Journalist. Career highlights include performing at some of the UK's premier music festivals, recording in Abbey Road and interviewing Debbie Harry.