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February 25, 2005


Marioís Turning Point

Once again, BMG/Sony provided me an opportunity to interview Mario Ė this time in person!  Mario's Turning Point has been on the top of the Billboard charts now for 10 weeks so I wasnít sure what to expect.  I mean, here is an 18-year young man that has succeeded in his career beyond most artistsí dreams.  Maybe this fame and all the accolades that go with it had gone to his head.  Boy, was I in for a surprise.  What I walked away with was the impression that this young man could easily become part of anyoneís circle of friends.  This is our interview, amongst the sneezing and sniffling as our Mario was under the weather that day.  Yet he still went on after our interview to do a live performance at MuchMusic and perform two other shows that same night. 


LE:            Welcome back to Toronto.  Since the last time we talked back in November, things have really taken off for you Ė with being at the top of the Billboard charts for 10 weeks straight.  Fantastic accomplishment Ė congratulations.  I know everyone says Ďat such a young ageí but really itís an amazing accomplishment for any artist.  Any artist would kill be on the Billboard charts for one week, never mind 10!


Mario:      But to be a young artist, it shows that you can do anything you can put your mind to.  Itís not about age, itís about quality, itís about how hungry you are.  For me, what a lot of people say is, what if you werenít this successful or what if you didnít live up to your last song?  You know what?  I really do it for the love of it at the end of the day.  It's what I love to do.


LE:             In January 2005, you signed a new management deal with Matthew Knowles of Urban Sanctuary.  How did that come to pass?


Mario:      Well, we had been talking for a minute about doing some things together.  I met him a long time ago when I was a little younger.  Basically, management is a tool for you, as an artist, to help you get to where you want to go.  Sanctuary is known all over the world, not just in America.  Itís something that I want to conquer, not just being an R&B artist but an all around artist, making music for all types of generations, all types of cultures and ethnic backgrounds.  So, with Sanctuary, theyíre a great team.  And weíre definitely going to make it happen. 


LE:            Sanctuary is known for being global and that, in Canada, is what weíre about too.  Our nation is full of other cultures.


Mario:      Iíve seen that just by coming here.  I first came to Montreal two years ago and I was like Ďwow, these kids speak French.í  Thatís crazy to me.  I donít know one word of French.


LE:             Well, itís definitely not just about making in America anymore.  Itís about Europe, New Zealand, Australia.  It certainly looks like youíre on your way. 


Mario:      Iím very excited man.  Iím very excited about the future because touring on my last album I was basically running around all these different places.  But I think I was afraid to let loose and be free.


LE:             Were you being instructed a lot on how to Ďbeí?  Like ĎIíd better not mess upí?


Mario:      Yeah.  Exactly.  But now, Iím like look, I know who I am.  I know what I want people to know about myself and Iím still learning about myself so even if I do make a mistake, who the hell doesnít make mistakes?  It makes me feel free.  So, when I go to these places now, I want to learn.  I want to be a part of it.  I want people to feel like Iím a part of them.  Not just as an artist but that has a lot to do with having that status. 


LE:            Whatís the biggest adjustment youíve had to make since Turning Point was released and skyrocketed in the charts?


Mario:      I just want to make sure that I donít lose who I am.  I try to stay focussed on the whole goal.  My goal is to never lose my love for music and get focussed on the famous part, or the money or all the crazy stuff but really keep my love for it because thatís what brought me to where I am right now.  Thatís important to me.  Other than that, Iím enjoying it! 


LE:             What are your thoughts with the current trends of the industry?  Do you feel as an artist that you get enough time spent on your talent or do you think itís more about the next hit or the balance sheets?


Mario:      My experience so far has been like a real journey.  As I see the industry like that, I think Ďwhy does it have to be that wayí but then you realize that it is a business and this is the way it is.  So, as an artist, I put my all into it when I have a chance to.  Once you find yourself as an artist, and you establish yourself, and you keep going and keep the music out there, and you keep your sanity with your fans, you canít lose.  Itís just something that I think you canít lose, if youíre a true artist. 


LE:            Thereís a lot of packaged artists out there and thatís where you know itís about business instead of the art.  I guess it depends on what you want out of it.


Mario:      It depends on if you have the energy and the time and the motivation and the drive for it.  Then it doesnít become about love anymore, it becomes a job. 


LE:             What do you think about the current wave of R&B artists?


Mario:      I noticed that thereís a lot of creativity and a lot of different emotions that are shown in the songs.  More so now, I think weíre getting back to the way that R&B used to be. 


LE:             I think the fans have had it with the music that doesnít mean anything.  In the end, itís the fans who drive the art.  


Mario:      Thatís for me man!  Thatís important.  With this album, all the songs I do, I want to make sure that itís a song that means something so that in the end, years from now, it can still be played.  Even though itís not as big as it was, Let Me Love You, youíll be able to play that 100 years from now, if God willing, planet earth is still here.  Itís going to still mean the same thing.  You can let me love you.  On Valentines Day, on Christmas.  Itís such a simple song but it means so much. 


LE:             I noticed a couple of tracks that you can really feel the emotion behind the songs.  Is it  harder to perform those that are very close to your experiences?


Mario:      All the songs that I have on my album are songs that I can relate to or songs that Iíve experienced that are relevant to my life.  When Iím on stage, I simply go back to that emotion.  I try to every time.  But when I canít do it that way, I try to just communicate with the crowd.  Kind of like telling them a story.  Theyíre there to listen and I communicate with my audience.  Look, Iím here to do this for you all, this is how I feel.  How do you feel?  Instead of just going out there and doing the songs. 


LE:            Whatís been one of your favourite places to perform or visit? 


Mario:      One of my favourite places to visit.  Hmm.  Well, Iím going to Japan next week.  And Iíve never been to Tokyo before and Iím very excited about that.  One, the art up there, the whole culture is amazing to me, just from seeing it on TV and pictures.  Iím a very artistic person and I love history and things.  I love storylines behind the simple.  Like that photo on the wall right there.  Thatís genius to me. 


LE:            Whatís going on with your acting career?  Are you still trying to pursue that or are you focussing on your music?


Mario:      I just had a meeting with Cedric the Entertainer.  Heís producing a movie.  The movie is about a young man who wants to dance.  And this is his first love.  It kind of takes me out of who I am, being Mario.  It still shows the musician side, you know.  His father wants him to be a preacher.  Heís like, 'No'.  The storyline is a young man growing into his manhood and making his own decisions.  Of course it has a lot of different storylines.  Life, growing up in the urban world.  I think itís going to be a hot movie.  I have to finish reading the script though.  I havenít finished reading it. 


LE:             OK, so I dropped a couple of Canadian artists names on you last time.  I think that you knew Glenn Lewis and k-os.  I had told you to check out Keshia Chante Ė did you get a chance to?


Mario:      Yes, I have checked out Keshia Chante. 


LE:             What would you say if she said she might interested in doing a duet with you?  What would you say to that?


Mario:      Oh yeah?  We could work something out.  Absolutely.  One of my dancers used to dance with her, heís from Toronto.  Marky D.  He was in my first video.  One of my choreographers too.  Luther Brown.  And Little X shot the video for Let Me Love You.  Very good people. 


LE:            What are your goals, now that all this has happened.  What do you want for you?


Mario:      I definitely want to have my own tour sometime soon.  Iím actually performing on the tour with Destinyís Child overseas and a couple of tours in the States.  I think that starts in April.  And like I said, I want to do the movie thing.  I have to get into movies.  Thatís my next step.  I canít wait for this new video to come out for How Could You.  Itís incredible.  Benny Boom shot the video - incredible video.  Itís a very strong song.  I want to have my own artists in the future and develop them.  That would have to be far in the future but thatís one of my goals. 


                    I always want to be known first of all as a humble person, God-fearing.  Next, a real true artist.  You know how they still talk about Sam (Cooke), Marvin (Gaye), Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole.  Thatís how I want to be remembered. 


LE:            I think youíre well on your way.  Do you have a message for your fans in Toronto?


Mario:      First of all, I want to say I love Toronto.  I think the women here are absolutely gorgeous and theyíre very confident and they know what they want.  Iím a single man.  Iím just looking for someone to let me love them. 

My oh my ladies.  This oneís a charmer which is definitely part of his appeal but he seems to be completely accepted by the guys too Ė a difficult task.  But Marioís warm personality and gracious spirit carries him through and leaves a lasting impression.  I predict that in the years to come we will still be singing the songs from his album, Turning Point.


Special thanks to Sean Cordner of BMG/Sony for this opportunity.