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LE Newsletter - December 2, 2004


Interview with R&B Artist Mario

Working with some of the hottest hands in the game including Scott Storch (Terror Squad) and Lil Jon (Usher) and featuring songs he co wrote, Mario has fashioned a record that shows you where he is and plans to be. Filled with aching ballads, introspective sentiment, club banters and a focused approach that belies his years, Turning Point is a musical snapshot of an artist spreading his creative wings and taking flight with confidence, cool charm and a style of his own.

Iíve listened to seven tracks given to me in advance from BMG Music Canada, and I have to say that Iíve listened to it over again and again.  I couldnít even select a favourite as I truly enjoy each one including collabs with Baby Cham and Cassidy.  You are already probably familiar with the title track, Let Me Love You, produced by Scott Storch that is receiving lots of love on the airwaves. This CD will be available in stores on Tuesday, December 7.

I spoke with Mario this week by phone from New York.  He stated that the biggest changes in this album from his previous album are the vocals which changed when his voice went through the natural changes of a young man.  He worried that the one thing that he loves the most Ė his music - would be taken from him.  But things eventually worked themselves out as you will hear on this his sophomore album, rendered at the tender age of 18, entitled Turning Point.  Thanks to BMG Music Canada for facilitating this interview through J Records

LE:       Having started your singing career at such a young age, do you think youíre missing out at all?  Or do you live a fairly Ďnormalí life?

Mario:  Yeah, I missed out a lot on my childhood and stuff that people my age go through.  But you know, I learned a lot in return.  Outside of the music, I feel like I run a fairly normal life.  I mean, I have my business life and my personal life.  I try to separate the two.  If you bring the two together, it can stress you out.  Youíve really got to be focussed and know when to separate certain things and know where to put certain situations and place them.  For instance I didnít get a chance to go home for Thanksgiving or any of the holidays because I was working.  Youíve got to be dedicated.  I knew I was out here for a great reason so itís not anything I regret.

LE:         Whatís been your most difficult adjustment to the music industry?  Whatís the biggest lesson?

Mario:  To be involved in what youíre doing and whatís being displayed of you as an artist.  You have to be involved and make the right decisions.  Sometimes itís real hard but you know you have to go with what you feel sometimes.  A lot of people have a lot of different opinions Ė youíre going to get an industry opinion, your own opinion and this opinion.  So it gets hard but youíve got to really focus on what your fans want to see.

LE:         You were raised in Baltimore.  What events led up to your move to New York? 

Mario:   Actually, I left Baltimore before I even started with music.  I was living in New Jersey before I started singing.  I left Baltimore to get away from that environment.  I wasnít seeing things I needed to see or meeting people I needed to meet.  I needed to broaden my horizons and meet new people and see new things.  That was the thing that changed my life.  When I came to New York, thatís when I got the opportunity to go to J and meet Clive.

LE:         How did you come to work with Clive Davis?

Mario:  It happened through my management.  Knowing the right people, asking some people that I knew who knew an A&R person that knew Clive. 

LE:         Do you know any Canadian R&B artists?  If so, who are your favourites? 

Mario Oh yeah, I know Glenn Lewis.  K-os, yes Iíve heard of him.  Glenn Lewis is a great artist.  Heís from Canada? 

                (Mario went on to say that his video for Let Me Love You was shot in Toronto by Canadian Little X.) 

LE:         I realize that youíre a young guy, but what would you want people to remember you for / say about you? 

Mario I want to be known for my dedication to my music.  And for the love I have for music and just as a great R&B singer.  Somebody who doesnít just do it for the industry and to be in the limelight.  For somebody that loves it because first it was in their heart, then it was a making. 

LE:         If you could work with any artist (living or past), who would they be?

Mario Marvin Gaye and Stevie.  I think Beyonce has a beautiful voice.  Stevie and Marvin definitely have something in common.  They took the music and made it a part of their everyday life.  They wrote about their lives.  A lot of stuff that R&B artists do is made up Ė some of it is.  But they (Stevie and Marvin) sang about stuff that was happening in the world and things that touch peopleís hearts all around the world.  You can still play a Marvin Gaye song and get the same reaction from people like ĎOhh my goodness.í  [They wrote about] the pain, the good, everything. 

 LE:         I feel that you could be that young new guy with old skool influence.  You can hear it in your lyrics and for such a young guy, thatís a good compliment.  Do you have any plans to come to Toronto?

 Mario Weíre doing the promo in the U.S. and everything but by next year, I should be out there. 

I asked Mario about his upcoming film projects.  Mario said that he has a minor role in an independent film entitled ďDestination FameĒ about kids trying to make it in the music industry.  He wanted to make clear that he is not playing one of the music students.  He is aspiring to hone his acting skills and hopes to secure more acting roles. 

It was a delight speaking with the youthful yet seemingly seasoned music professional, Mario.  Iíve put a vote in for a trip to Toronto soon and perhaps even a collab with some Canadian artists! 

For more info, check Mario's site:  CLICK HERE!