Mayer Hawthorne has lived in Los Angeles since 2005. But when the bespectacled soul singer performed last week as one of the buzz acts at the South By Southwest Music + Media Conference in Austin, Texas, he was listed as being from Ann Arbor — deliberately.
“I love Los Angeles, but that’s just where I pay rent,” says Hawthorne, 30, who was raised in Ann Arbor as Andrew Mayer Cohen and, as DJ Haircut, was a member of the hip-hop groups Now On and Athletic Mic League.
“I’m from Ann Arbor and my whole family is in Detroit and that’s where I (represent). Detroit is always what’s in my heart. That’s always what I’m doing it for.”
Hawthorne continues to be doing it well, too. His first album, “A Strange Arrangement,” continues to build, thanks to the singles “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” and the new “I Wish It Would Rain.” He remixed a track, “Gangsta Love,” for Snoop Dogg’s just-released “More Malice” album, as well as a split single with James Pants, covering his “Thin Moon” while Pants takes on Hawthorne’s “Green Eyed Love.”
Hawthorne is also thinking about releasing some of the covers he does in concert — the Isley Brothers’ “Work to Do,” Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky” and N.E.R.D.’s “Fly or Die.” He’s already started working on his next album, too, but he’s also planning on spending most of this year on the road thanks to a worldwide following that’s bought into “A Strange Arrangement.”
“It just keeps growing and growing,” he says. “I would say I’ve been shocked at the amount of love that I’m getting out there. People are showing up and they know the words and the shows are selling out. Halfway across the Earth, people are playing my music and singing along.
“It’s really amazing. I think they definitely have an appreciation for good songwriting out there, and melody. I think that’s the sort of thing, regardless of what language you speak, that someone can appreciate.”
Mayer Hawthorne & the County perform at 8 p.m. Friday, March 26, at Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Tickets are $15. Call 313-961-6358 or visit www.livenation.com.
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