Sheryl Crow didn't just travel with Michael Jackson's 'Bad' tour back in 1987 for a lark, but also because she was drawn to his and other R&B music. The gritty pulse of R&B sounds combined with what she tells Spinner is the "mystique about Memphis" -- including Elvis Presley and Sun Studios - inspired her latest album '100 Miles From Memphis.'

"It was a fascinating place to go growing up," says Sheryl. "And as I got older and started playing music, I started really appreciating some of the music I grew up with. I really gravitated back to the music that came out of my little area, and after the 'Detours' record -- I love that record, it still holds up to me and I feel that it's the most realized artistic statement that I've made so far -- on the heels of that, I've really been sort of gravitating back to music that I grew up listening to, which is a lot of R&B, a lot of Motown, a lot of Stax. I just kept leaning toward that sound and the next thing I knew, I'm making this record."

What initially led Sheryl toward R&B was the single 'ABC' by the Jackson 5, which she received as a childhood Christmas gift, she tells Billboard.

"Every Saturday morning, we were in front of the TV watching the Jackson 5 cartoon," she recalls. "I grew up watching 'American Bandstand' and learning all the current dances ... my parents were in a swing band. When they came home after gigs they were listening to a lot of rhythm and blues. The music that lured me was the music that came out of Memphis -- a lot of Al Green, and obviously Elvis and Sun Studios."

Although Sheryl made her last five records in her own studio she recorded most of the latest disc in Henson Studio in Los Angeles and Electric Lady Studios in New York. Keith Richards, Citizen Cope and Justin Timberlake are all guests on the album.

"[Justin] was there working with Jamie Foxx. I just finished 'Sign Your Name,' which we had done in a very Al Green direction," Sheryl tells Spinner. "So I said, 'Justin, come check this out,' and he came in. He said, 'You know, I'm from Memphis,' which is where Al Green is from. And he said, 'Are you going to do the backgrounds on it?' and I said, 'I don't know yet.' He said, 'I'll do it.' So he came in and did it. It was really organic and he's amazingly talented. I think people don't really know the depth of his talent."

Although Sheryl says piano is her main instrument, she hadn't written on it for years until she began to compose the songs for this latest album.

"I wanted to return to keyboards on this album and on this tour," she says. "I've really enjoyed it. It got me closer to what I was trying to achieve on this record."

Sheryl will begin a tour next month in support of the new album. For a complete list of dates, click here.

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