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Mayer Hawthorne: September 2009's Artist to Watch

When most people think of the best of jazz and soul, a skinny white kid from Ann Arbor, Michigan, is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. But Mayer Hawthorne (Andrew Mayer Cohen) is well on his way to changing that. With influences like Smokey Robinson, Curtis Mayfield, and the collaboration of Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, and Eddie Holland Jr, Mayer has a retro sound that bespeaks a seasoned yet refreshing soul.

Hawthorne chose his on-stage moniker in tribute to Hawthorne Road, the street where he grew up and was first introduced to the jazz and funk of the area. As he says, "Most of the best music ever made came out of Detroit.” The boy who was always listening to the radio is now a DJ himself, as well as a producer, multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter. That makes for a one-man show, and Hawthorne doesn't disappoint. His swinging debut, A Strange Arrangement, is self-made - every single note is played or sung by Hawthorne himself. The end result is a raw, rich, and conversely refined collection of original songs that sound like they could be spun off of a record in a '70s shop. Check out Mike Vasilikos' review on this Featured Album of the Week, here.

A Strange Arrangement is due out in September, but the two singles released prior to the LP, already built quite a buzz around this new-old soul from the Detroit area. This is one artist that won't remain out of the spotlight for long. Check him out at Johnny Brenda's when he hits up Philly on September 30, 2009, and be sure to listen to XPN for some great music from Mayer Hawthorne.

Recent Release: A Strange Arrangement
Release Date: October 6, 2009
Label: Stone's Throw
Origin: Ann Arbor, Michigan