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Home is where Mayer Hawthorne's heart, and music, is
Mayer Hawthorne hasn’t been on stage in Detroit for a while.
But he’s certainly been around town.
The Ann Arbor-raised R&B singer (real name Andrew Mayer Cohen and a former member of the hip-hop group Now On) recorded much of his second album in Detroit, in the bedroom studio of an apartment he rented in downtown Detroit.
“It was off Third Street, pretty close to downtown,” says Hawthorne, 31. “I wanted to be right in the heart of it. I wanted to make sure that I captured that essence of that Detroit soul, so it’s still very rooted in that.”
That said, Hawthorne adds that fans can also expect to hear “a lot of my other influences coming through on this record. You’re going to hear more of my affinity for Steely Dan and the Beatles and the Byrds and the Hollies and the Doobie Brothers — probably some Public Enemy and N.W.A., too.
“It just happens kind of naturally. It’s not something I kind of really have to plan or orchestrate. I was making rock music and hip-hop long before I was making soul music, so those influences automatically come out in everything I do.”
The new album, which Hawthorne plans to release in 2011, will also feature guest appearances by Snoop Dogg and Motown guitarist Dennis Coffey; Hawthorne returned the favor to the latter by recording a track for Coffey’s forthcoming album. And unlike his critically lauded 2009 debut “A Strange Arrangement,” which spawned the hit single “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out,” Hawthorne’s next release will be put out to accompanying expectations.
But he says he’s not feeling the pressure.
“I played a couple of the (new) songs for my close friends recently,” he says, “and the reaction, which I thought was hysterical, was that, ‘We didn’t think you’d be able to beat “A Strange Arrangement.” ’ Even my closest friends didn’t think I’d be able to top it. They were reluctant to admit they thought the new material was better. So I’m feeling good about it.
“It’s definitely my favorite material I’ve recorded to date. If everybody likes it as much as ‘A Strange Arrangement,’ then fantastic. If not, that’s OK, too.”
Mayer Hawthorne, Macpodz and 14kt perform Thursday, Dec. 23, at the Majestic Theatre, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $17 at the door. Call 3130833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com.
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