Back in March, the Express paper wrote an article about an up and coming musician that was slated to perform in D.C. at The Rock and Roll Hotel. The musician’s name was Mayer Hawthorne, and after reading the article, it sounded like a musician I had to check out. The article painted Hawthorne as just the kind of musician I enjoy listening to:
By adding touches of hip-hop, rock and reggae to the classic sounds of Motown, Hawthorne has generated a small, but devoted following.
“What I’m trying to do with this soul music is… honor the original Detroit soul but also update it, Hawthorne said. “I think a lot of kids, they might choose not to listen to it because they feel like it’s more music of a previous generation. So, I’m bringing… young blood into that music and bringing it into 2010 and making it fun again.”
Since reading the article, two months ago, I had been wanting to give his music a good listening to, but for some reason, never got around to it. Today, as I was sifting through the contents of my desk, the article I saved about Mayer Hawthorne fell to the floor. I picked it up and decided that this lazy Saturday morning would be a great time to give a first listen to his music. The first song I chose to listen to was, “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out.”
I loved it. The story to the video was cute and definitely something I could relate to. And the music was wonderfully soulful and catchy. I could immediate understand what the article was saying about his Motown sound, yet also bringing it into the 21st century. It was hip, with it’s hip-hop undertones. I decided to check out more.
The next thing that stuck with me was this simple Barbershop Quartet tune, called, “When I Said Goodbye.”
This was more mellow and smooth and reminded me of something I would hear on an Oldies station. It was reminiscent of the early crooning of The Temptations. It was easy to listen to and I enjoyed the four-part arrangement. I wanted to make sure that Mayer Hawthorne could keep up his style successfully, after only listening to two of his songs.
The next song I happened upon might be my new favorite song:
“Maybe So Maybe No” was fun, catchy, and was great to sing a long to. Like with the first song, “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out,” I also became very fond of this video. The video is just Mayer having a good time at a beachy town. You see him with skateboarders, other performers, music lovers, and it ends with an outdoor party. The video just emphasizes the feel good vibe that the song brings out, despite the lyrics about how love can be mysterious and unsure.
His music reminded me a lot of another band I really like, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings (this song is maybe my favorite of theirs). It brings to mind the sounds of funk, soul, and RnB; all types of music that I love.
The funny thing with Mayer Hawthorne, is that upon looking at him, you wouldn’t necessarily guess that he sounds the way he does:
Yes, that’s right. I am being mildly stereotypically racist and I’m saying that in my mind he looks pretty White. Just look at the hair, the Buddy Holly “birth control” glasses, the cardigan, the cheesy-goofy “nice Jewish boy” smile he has:
And yet he has this hip, soulful, Black sound. He is, after all (according to the article, I referenced above), from “Ann Arbor Michigan, in a home filled with soul music [that] both his parents loved.” But I love that his music sounds so different than the way he looks. Sometimes I secretly aspire to “look Black” when I am in fact White. I know that really, this is all just silly that one can look like another race just by the way they dress, but it does ring some bit of truth. And yet, why shouldn’t he be that way? Notably, Beyond Race Magazine, even landed Mayer on the front cover:
And Mayer looks like he could be remotely Black here. How beautifully ironic. And how awesome. This Jewish boy, who grew up going by Andrew Mayer Cohen seems to have come a long way into his moderate fame. He’s my new favorite person.