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Breaking Artist: Eli "Paperboy" Reed

April 9, 2008 12:51 PM ET

Who: Eli "Paperboy" Reed, a Boston-via-Delta South soul singer who, with his band the True Loves, conquered both street corners and punk clubs with a mix of grooved-out rave-ups and slow-burning ballads.

Sounds Like: Your favorite Motown and Stax Records livened up for the Winehouse era. On his new album Roll With You, "Paperboy" delivers classic soul and horn-heavy R&B soaked with the blues of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. "Southern music is really where it's at for me and it's really defined my sound," Reed says.

Vital Stats:

• So where did he get the moniker "Paperboy?" "Ever see the movie Newsies?" asks Reed. "I lived in Mississippi for a while and in high school I had a newsboy hat that was my grandfather's. Everyone's got a nickname down there and people started calling me 'Paperboy' because of the hat."

• Reed's performing days started at age sixteen with a summer job playing in the street in Boston's Harvard Square. "I played guitar and harmonica, and my friend played drums and washboard," Reed remembers. "The money was good, and we only had to work for four hours a day."

• Reed has gained a reputation for his energetic live shows. "I had gotten a new blue sharkskin suit that I loved, and I was doing a ballad where I got down on one knee and suddenly the entire left pant leg ripped wide open," Reed says. "I was standing there with one pant leg. There were three songs left in the set, and there wasn't much I could do but finish the set. I rip a lot of pants."

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