Sheryl Crow’s ‘Memphis’ Journey Includes Justin Timberlake
Sheryl Crow, whose first solo album was released in 1992, quickly became one of pop music's biggest female icons, scoring six Top 10 albums and becoming one of the music industry's top-selling artists. But the multiple Grammy-winning singer, getting ready to release another CD next month, feels her latest project is the most authentic representation of herself she has ever recorded.
Called '100 Miles From Memphis,' the title, she says, is both literal and figurative. "I've always had a lot of people around me ... encouraging me to really get back to my roots," the Kennett, Mo. native tells Billboard magazine. "I was a kid that grew up listening to the radio; we'd tune the transistors to pick up the Memphis stations, and that kind of music was just a part of our consciousness. It was a perfect time to go full-throttle with it."
The 12-song project was a labor of love for Sheryl and several of her famous friends, including Memphis native Justin Timberlake, whose appearance on the project was a last-minute addition. "He happened to be at [the studio] producing Jamie Foxx, and he was in the hallway," Sheryl says. "I've always liked him. I played [the song] for him, and when it got to the chorus he's like, 'Who's doing backgrounds?' I said, 'We haven't done them yet,' and he said, 'I got it.' It was all very organic and, man, perfect. People have no idea how talented this guy is."
Sheryl, who sang background vocals on Michael Jackson's 1988 Bad world tour, covers The Jackson 5's 'I Want You Back,' to finish out her CD. It was an unexpected way, Sheryl explains, to bring her career full circle. "We were recording an unreleased track by Marvin Gaye called 'Desperate Situation,' and it was in that range so I just busted into 'I Want You Back' and the band followed, and when it was done everyone [said], 'What in the world? We've got to put that on the album!' It's definitely an homage; the Jackson 5 was the first album I ever owned, and the guy gave me my first job in the business and was incredibly generous with his talent with me."
Also included on the project is a reggae-infused song 'Eye to Eye' featuring Rolling Stones' legend Keith Richards on guitar and Citizen Cope partnering with Sheryl on his hit, 'Sideways.' A self-proclaimed fan of great music of all genres, Sheryl also recently recorded a song with good friend Kid Rock, for his upcoming project, 'Born Free.'
Hitting the road this summer, Sheryl will have her hands full, thanks in part to a new addition to her family. She recently adopted a newborn son, Levi James. The baby joins big brother Wyatt, who turned three in April. "[Levi's] perfect in every way," Sheryl says. "At this stage, he's the perfect little blob who eats, sleeps and poops -- just precious, hardly ever cries. Wyatt actually loves him and loves being a big brother so so far, so great."