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Aaron Neville mines past for new album

By Jessica Dunne, CNN
updated 12:08 PM EDT, Tue September 18, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Aaron Neville will release a doo-wop cover album
  • Keith Richards and EMI music president Don Was produced the album
  • Neville would like to work with Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson in the future

(CNN) -- When it comes to versatility, New Orleans musician Aaron Neville knows the ropes.

He's tackled pop, soul, gospel and R&B over his five-decade long career. Now, he's venturing into the genre of one of his biggest inspirations: doo-wop.

His new album, titled "My True Story," features 12 songs, which are all doo-wop covers. He handpicked all of the covers -- from "Under the Boardwalk" by the Drifters to "Ting a Ling" by the Clovers. Because he loves doo-wop so much, he said there may even more songs to come: "We had 12 songs and we ended up doing 23. So there will probably be a part two and a part three," Neville told CNN.

Neville said the inspiration for the album comes from childhood memories of his hometown and his family. His older brother Art introduced him to doo-wop.

"He was a singer," Neville said.

"He had this doo-wop group ... and I got to play with them and go up and down Louisiana and Mississippi."

Neville and his brothers Art, Charles and Cyril would later form The Neville Brothers and churn out more than a dozen albums on various labels. Over the years, they've all been involved in their own musical projects, but still perform together at various festivals. Many fans have dubbed them New Orleans' "first family of funk".

Neville said the Crescent City will always be home.

"I just did a gig at the House of Blues (in New Orleans) and it was so noisy," Neville said. "It's the best feeling in the world to hear that."

He provided a lot of comfort to fans from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He met displaced New Orleanians all over the country as he toured, and many of them were grateful to be reminded of home. "It felt good that we would give, that we could make somebody feel good, because I know I was feeling -- and I'm sure they were feeling the same way -- your whole everything just was gone."

Even though Neville often returns to his hometown to perform, he has not returned to his home in East New Orleans since Katrina. Much of that area was decimated by the storm and flood waters. He and his family evacuated to Memphis, and the singer eventually made his way to New York, which has become his new home.

New York is also where he recorded "My True Story," which was a project that included several musical heavyweights. The album was produced by EMI Music's President Don Was and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Richards and Neville first met back in 1981 while on tour.

"We've been running across each other for years. We have much respect for each other," Neville said. "I think Keith is one of the most down-to-Earth guys in the world."

And Neville still has some other artists he'd like to work with, he said.

"I'd like to work with Steve Wonder, Smokey (Robinson), Natalie Cole. And I heard Beyonce -- she was imitating me on 'Don't Know Much' and I think she can sing."

Besides collaborations, Neville may be diving into yet another genre soon.

"I've never really done a blues album, and I can sing blues," he said. That's the good thing about my band. We can do every genre of music."

"My True Story" is set to be released on January 22.

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