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Jason Mraz: The World's Most Successful Unknown Singer
by Trina Yannicos
TheSyndicatedNews columnist

Trina Yannicos is a freelance music journalist and tour guide. She was the host of two travel DVDs: "John Lennon's New York" and "Bob Dylan's New York" produced by ArtsMagic Films.

He's released three successful studio albums, played live in concert to thousands of people around the world, performed on all the late night talk shows and even sang a song for the "Ugly Betty" TV show, yet no one seems to know who he is! Ask anyone on the street if they've heard of Jason Mraz, and you'll get a resounding "Who?"

He's definitely not a household name yet like some of his contemporaries, i.e., John Mayer, Gavin DeGraw or Jack Johnson, but to his thousands and thousands of fans around the world, Jason Mraz is one of the hottest singer/songwriter/performers to come around in years. Mraz combines his gift for gab (a.k.a. rapping) and clever lyrics with an upbeat pop sound that keeps maturing with each album. And, if that wasn't enough, add to that his melodious voice which has such a broad vocal range, he could easily star in a Broadway show.

Mraz first burst onto the scene in 2003 with the release of his first album, "Waiting for My Rocket to Come" (Elektra) and had a hit single "The Remedy (I Won't Worry)" which received lots of radio airplay. He followed that up with his sophomore release "Mr. A - Z" (a play on his last name) where he worked with producer Steve Lillywhite, which reached number five on the Billboard 200 album charts in 2005.

A native of Mechanicsville, Virginia, Mraz migrated to California in the late 1990s to hone his craft at the San Diego coffee houses. He built up a following and befriended many local musicians, including percussionist Toca Rivera, who now serves as Jason's right-hand man on tour and in the studio, providing percussion and backup vocals on Jason's own compositions.

Mraz writes all of his own songs and is a songwriter in the true sense of the word. He doesn't just write songs to record when his next album is due. He writes all the time, whenever the mood strikes him, and as a result, has a plethora of songs in his catalog that he plays in concert even though the songs may not have been released yet on any official recording. That is the genesis of where his latest single "I'm Yours" came from. A demo version of "I'm Yours" originally appeared on a limited release bonus EP Mraz put out with his second album, and he had been performing it live for about two or three years. "I'm Yours" became such a fan favorite that Mraz decided to make it the debut single for his latest album "We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things." (Atlantic) which reached number three on the Billboard album charts this past May.

Jason Mraz is happy to promote himself when asked, but seems to prefer staying under the radar. His casual look of jeans, a t-shirt, a hat, and sometimes even bare feet on stage seem to perpetuate his laid-back attitude. An attractive, slender man of 31 years of age, he discourages attention to his looks, many times hiding his unkept hair under his hat, and even choosing a stick drawing of himself to appear on his album cover. Whatever the motive, his intent of the public's focus being on his music and not on his "image" just adds to his down-to-earth persona.

Yet, without even trying, he exudes a lot of sex appeal to his female fans. He has a great sense of humor on stage which also is apparent in his wordy, yet extremely clever lyrics. Witness all the female screams when he sings these words live: "Scooch on over closer dear, and I will nibble your ear" [from "I'm Yours"].

What makes Mraz an exciting live performer is he's always got a few tricks up his sleeve. His huge following of dedicated fans -- male and female -- flock to his live shows waiting to discover what songs he will sing and what stories he will tell that night. Mraz is a spontaneous performer and as a result, every show is different. In fact, some nights, he even makes up new songs during the concert!

As with many talented performers, Mraz expresses his creativity in other forms including his witty and insightful journal on his website (, and coming out later this year, his first book, "A Thousand Things: A Book of Polaroids by Jason Mraz".

So, even though your friend or co-worker or neighbor may not know who he is, Jason Mraz is a talented singer/songwriter destined to be a household name in the not-so-distant future. You heard it here first!

Jason Mraz is currently on tour in the U.S. Visit Mraz's official website,, for concert dates and locations.

[All photo credits to Bil Zelman]

Published: Sep 5,2008 19:43
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