In The Groove With Soul Singer Mayer Hawthorne

Michigan raised soul singer picks three formative songs from three formative years of his life.

Photo by Jake Michaels

Ann Arbor born and raised DJ turned soul singer Mayer Hawthorne has become known for smooth ballads and up-beat funk tunes. Now based in Los Angeles, Hawthorne has released multiple projects on the indie label Stones Throw Records.

Hawthorne is performing at the Fillmore in Detroit this coming Saturday. Tickets are available here.

Leading up to the show, Hawthorne joins In The Groove, a regular segment on WDET’s CultureShift where artists, politicians and other luminaries talk about three songs from three influential years of their life.

You can listen to the previous In The Groove with MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer here.

One of Hawthorne’s first music memories is performing Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” for his family at seven years old. 

“I just remember doing my own personal concerts for my family in my bedroom,” he says. “I had the little white sparkly glove and everything.”  


When Hawthorne was 19 years old he was introduced to the song “Players” by legendary Detroit hip hop group, Slum Village.

“My homie KT brought this vinyl record…to my house,” he says. “I remember sitting in my living room playing this record over and over on my turntables and we could not figure out how they did it or what was going on. I had never heard anything like it, but it was so dope.” 

Currently, Mayer Hawthorne has been listening to “Crawl” by Gabriel Garzón-Montano, a fellow Stones Throw signee. Hawthorne was in a New York City record store where an early song by Garzón-Montano was playing over the speakers. 

“I went up to the counter and I asked my friend…’what is this playing right now?,'” recalls Hawthorne. “He told me it was this kid Gabriel Garzón-Montano. I bought that record immediately. I brought it back to L.A. and I’ve been bangin’ it ever since.” 

Click on the audio player above for the full conversation. 


  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host of "In the Groove" on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.