Eli Reed


INFLUENCES: Ray Charles,
Sam Cooke, Otis Redding

ALBUM: Come and Get It, due out Aug. 10

WEBSITE: elipaperboyreed.com

EVERYTHING CHANGED FOR YOUNG ELI REED THE DAY that his father bought a Ray Charles box set, which the family listened to again and again over the course of a summer vacation. Reed was already a fan of vintage rock ’n’ roll and country music, but when he heard the sounds of old-school soul and R&B his course was set. “That was my introduction to soul music,” he says. “It really changed my life.” His major-label debut, Come and Get It, is suffused with those infl uences—albeit placed into a modern context by producer Mike Elizondo (Eminem, Pink, Avenged Sevenfold).

After high school, Reed headed to Clarksdale, Miss., and paid his dues singing the blues in nightclubs fi ve nights a week. It was there that he earned his nickname. “I used to wear this hat, my grandfather’s hat, a newsboy hat—it’s retired now,” he recalls. “All the musicians in Clarksdale had a nickname. They gave me that one and it stuck with me.” He later moved to Chicago, where he made a name for himself with his high-energy shows. A pair of well-received independent albums brought him to the attention of Capitol Records, which signed him last year.

Reed wrote or co-wrote 11 of the 12 tracks on Come and Get It (the sole cover is of late Boston singer Frank Lynch’s “Young Girl”), which he says is inspired by 1970s Chicago soul in particular. “For me, it’s all about writing pop songs,” he says. “Soul music was the greatest pop music of the 20th century, and its infl uence is so far-reaching. When I pick up a guitar to write a song, the influence of the music I love invariably comes out. For me, that music has been completely internalized. I’m not trying to put anything on. This is what comes out, this is what happens. I can’t sing or write any other way than I do.”

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