October 4th, 2011
10:10 AM ET
At Hollywood's Hotel Café, a venue where up-and-coming singers put on small shows for their fans, an artist with a powerful voice is on stage.
With his red glasses, pale skin and long, curly blond hair, he doesn't have the stereotypical look of an R&B soul singer. But his voice and energy reminds listeners of music legends like Stevie Wonder and Prince.
Meet Allen Stone, a 24-year-old who grew up singing in his father's church in Chewelah, Washington. His childhood music playlist included African American gospel singers like Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin and Fred Hammond. He used gospel and R&B music to teach himself how to sing.
“I really learned how to feel songs, and really feel what I was singing," Stone told CNN. “Not just the technicality of singing, but the passion.”
In addition to Wonder, Billboard says Stone has drawn comparisons to star crooners such as Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke. Yet Stone said his new self-titled album goes a little bit deeper than the standard mix of relationship-centric tunes.
“I just don’t want to talk about love songs and sex that is typically R&B music," Stone said. "I want to talk about something that at least stirs some conversation."
One such song is the single “Unaware,” the video for which has been making the rounds on YouTube. On the surface, "Unaware" appears to be a love song - Stone himself says that he "thought it would be really cool to sing it like a D'Angelo song" - but a closer listen reveals lyrics about economic issues in America: “Everyday the deficit grows, you spend more than you own.”
Check out the video for "Unaware" below. Stone's self-titled album releases today.
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