Growing up in Brookline, MA, Eli Reed had wide exposure to music. His father was a critic and lent his extensive record collection to his son, who soaked up as much as he could, gravitating toward the gospel, soul, blues, and R&B albums especially. Teaching himself piano, guitar, and harmonica, and busking in Harvard Square to practice his chops and performing skills, after finishing high school he found work in Clarksdale, MS, but upon moving there, and finding that the job had fallen through, Reed introduced himself to the music community there, playing frequently at local clubs and even ending up under the tutelage of drummer Sam Carr. It was in Mississippi that Reed also got his nickname, "Paperboy," thanks to the newsboy-styled hat he was wearing at the time, but after nine months there, at his parents' bequest he moved north to attend the University of Chicago. In Chicago Reed was able to meet soul singer Mitty Collier, who had had a hit in 1964 with the single "I Had a Talk with My Man" but had since turned to ministry. The young musician impressed her so much -- he auditioned on the piano in his dormitory -- that she asked him to be the Minister of Music at her church, a position he held until he returned to Boston after a year of school. Back home, Reed worked on assembling his band, called the True Loves, and in 2005 he self-released the record Sings "Walkin' and Talkin' (For My Baby)" and Other Smash Hits, a collection of covers and originals. The band began to gain recognition around town, particularly thanks to Reed's enthused and passionate singing, and a performance at 2007's SXSW attracted some label interest. Signed to Boston-based Q Division, Eli "Paperboy" Reed & the True Loves issued their second full-length, Roll with You (with all songs written or co-written by Reed), in the spring of 2008.