Who Is That Powerful Voice Behind Avicii’s ‘Wake Me Up’?

September 5, 2013 1:02 pm
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Swedish DJ Avicii has been burning up the charts with his latest single, “Wake Me Up.”

Since its June release, it has peaked at No. 1 in more than 20 countries and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.

And a big part of that success is the voice bringing the song to life: singer-rapper Aloe Blacc. Although plenty of people have heard of Avicii, 34-year-old Aloe (born: Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III) is relatively unknown … until now.

Here are some things to know about the powerful voice:

He Got His Start in a Rap Duo

In 1995, the then-teenage Aloe launched his career in rap duo Emanon and released six albums before branching off on his own. In 2006, he put out his debut solo album, Shine Through, and toured Europe. Before gaining notoriety on “Wake Me Up,” Aloe did have performances on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and Conan.

His Song “I Need a Dollar” Is the Theme to HBO’s How to Make It in America

In 2010, Aloe got his first taste of international success when his song “I Need a Dollar,” from his Good Things album became the theme of HBO’s How to Make It in America, which starred Lake Bell, Kid Cudi, and Luis Guzman. Thanks to that exposure, the track peaked in the Top 10 in more than a dozen countries, including Ireland, Australia, and Germany.

He Wrote the Lyrics for “Wake Me Up”

After being asked to sing on the track (thanks to an introduction from Linkin Park‘s Mike Shinoda), Aloe started work on the lyrics to Avicii’s music while on a flight home from a performance in Geneva. “When I wrote the lyrics I felt like I was making a strong statement but I never imagined that they would touch so many people,” he tells Rolling Stone. “In the studio, Mike [Einziger, of Incubus] sat next to me with his guitar and started strumming chords. I sang to him the chorus that I thought would work but was not sure about the second half: ‘All this time I was finding myself and I didn’t know I was lost.’ Mike thought it was perfect. With that, I started to get the sense that we had something big on our hands.”

He Once Covered Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” With a String Quintet … and It Was Amazing

He Can Pull off “Wake Me Up” Without Avicii

In June, Aloe performed his hit song at Couleur Cafe Festival in Brussels, Belgium with just his band backing him, which gives the song a whole new feel.

And if you haven’t already checked out the music video for “Wake Me Up”:


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