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MoZella: Recording An Homage To The Motor City

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It wouldn't be hard to confuse Detroit-born singer MoZella's new album, The Brian Holland Sessions, with any one of the classic recordings to have come from the legendary studio known as Hitsville, USA.

That's no coincidence — the record was co-written by someone who spent a lot of time in that studio: Brian Holland of the songwriting trio Holland-Dozier-Holland.

Having penned hits for The Four Tops, The Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes and others, Holland was instrumental in defining the Motown sound.

MoZella, otherwise known as Maureen McDonald, says she was speechless when Holland first invited her to write with him.

"I was walking across Santa Monica Boulevard and I lost my voice," she remembers. "I'm trying to talk to him above traffic — and he was just so nice to me.'"

McDonald says she couldn't have asked for a better mentor.

"I thought, 'What an amazing opportunity to learn from this legend,' " she says. "From the minute we met it was like long-lost souls — just the best of friends, instantly."

McDonald says that camraderie has produced a record that anyone from Detroit can be proud of.

"I want it to sound really old and dirty and kind of janky," she says. "I don't care if radio doesn't play it. I don't care if nobody plays it. I just want to make something that sounds like what my mom grew up on and loved, what she played me, what's in our DNA — for every Detroiter."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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