Michael Bolton Mines Motown For Album Inspiration

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Shannon Carlin
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Michael Bolton’s latest album, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Tribute to Hitsville, features songs by Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder. But don’t call it a covers album.

“When people say well, ‘Why do a cover?’” Bolton told, shaking his head. “Well, why were you humming the song while you were walking to school when you were ten? It’s cause it’s what you love.”

As a kid, Bolton loved Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and even named his album, out February 26, in honor of their 1967 hit single. He said the main reason he loved Marvin and Tammi’s famous duet was their undeniable chemistry, something he tried to recreate on his own version with Kelly Rowland.

“You really believe these two are madly in love,” he said. “They look great together and the blend of their voices.”

Adding with a smile, “There’s only one Marvin.”

But it was Bolton’s brother who introduced him to Stevie Wonder, who would become the singer’s biggest inspiration and whose “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” he pays tribute to on his latest release.

“That changed everything for me,” he said. “Singing along with Stevie gave me a more flexible voice, challenged my range. That’s one of the greatest ranges in the popular music, in the history of music.”

Bolton admitted he is always a few steps ahead of himself and had planned to record a Motown album a lot earlier is his career. Unfortunately though, Michael McDonald got to the idea first releasing Motown in 2003 and its follow-up Motown Two the following year.

But that’s the thing about the music of Hitsville, everyone wants to put their own spin on these truly timeless songs. Or as Bolton, who has had his own success as a songwriter explained: “There was a lot of great artists who were going to come and go, but what they need to stay are hits.”

Sometimes, the hits just don’t have to be your own.

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