In the Mix
Many years ago, in Concord, I went to see my daughter perform for her school’s talent show. Of course she was fantastic, but at that same show, a little boy sang and he blew me away. I could not believe a 7 or 8 year old could have those pipes. I’m sure we all have had the experience at one time or another of seeing a young performer and thinking, “That kid is going to be somebody.” Well, that kid is somebody and his name is Mario Jose. I felt honored then to have experienced the voice of an angel and feel honored now, when he is grown up and following his dream. Over the years, I’ve seen Mario share his talent with John Legend on Duets and watched him on American Idol. While attending the Berklee School of Music, he was part of a group called Pitch Slapped and worked as the tour assistant for the a capella group Pentatonix, singing alongside them as well. As you can tell, this kid is going somewhere. He is an accomplished singer and songwriter and also a very down to earth, nice guy. He graciously took time to give me a little interview before he started rehearsals for his upcoming tour.
PC: How old were you when you first began to sing?
MJ: I was 2 ½ years old when I started singing!
PC: Who were some of your influences?
MJ: Some of my musical influences are Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Celine Dion, and Whitney Houston. More recently, Bruno Mars, Adele, Sam Smith, and John Legend have been incredibly inspiring.
PC: Do you remember your first gig, and can you tell us a little about it?
MJ: I had my first gig with my mom when I was 7. It was at the Heather Farm Rose Garden for a family friend's wedding.
PC: I know you write some of your own songs. Take me through your process.
MJ: Writing my own music is actually something very new to me. I was always so scared to say stuff that's already been said. With writing "Heart of Gold," I reached out to all of my favorite songwriting friends and asked if they would join forces. Everyone was so on-board and willing to help. I usually start with a lyric or melodic idea and branch off from that, then add chords and production. So far, everything I've written has been a real situation or feeling I've experienced, and to me, that's the kind of writing I want to continue to do.
PC: What do you find more challenging, touring or recording?
MJ: Well my tour with Post Modern Jukebox in January will be my first where I'll be singing, so we'll see which I find more difficult! Recording is always fun. I love being in the booth and letting my emotions pour out.
PC: What have been some of your favorite moments of your career so far?
MJ: Working and singing with Pentatonix will always be a highlight. I think they're gods (and goddesses) among men. Singing with Prince was incredible; working with Meghan Trainor is an absolute joy...I just love to sing with people that love and appreciate music.
PC: If you were a song, what song would you be and why?
MJ: If I were a song, I would want to be Donny Hathaway's arrangement of "A Song for You" because, to me, that is what music is about: connecting with people. You can travel all over the world and sing at people, but I want to sing to people. I want to look into people's eyes and relate to them, their hearts, and their insecurities because, at the end of the day, we're all human. The lyrics that Leon Russell wrote are simple and to the point and beautiful. "...listen to the melody, 'cause my love is in there hiding..." ONE OF THE BEST LYRICS OF ALL TIME IN MY OPINION.
Thank you, Mario! I highly recommend checking him out when he is in the Bay Area. He will be opening for Post Modern Jukebox at the Bing Concert Hall at Stanford on February 15. Get your tickets now! Also, check out Mario’s website at www.mariojosemusic.com. You can download his latest EP, Heart of Gold, on iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play and Apple Music.
One of my favorite events of the year is happening this month. Come Together #7 will be held at the Pleasant Hill Community Center on February 24 at 7:30pm. This year’s lineup features Carlos Reyes, Sin Silver & The Avenue, The Lost Weekend, Hard Rain, Alexa Heine, and Izzy Traina. And, of course, you never know who might show up for a song or two. Don’t miss out, as this will be an amazing show. Go to the Pleasant Hill Rec & Park website for more information and tickets at www.pleasanthillrec.com.
Quote of the Month: “Music is the moonlight in the gloomy night of life.” ― Jean Paul Friedrich Richter
Paul’s Picks for February:
February 3: The Big Jangle, WiseGirl, 1932 Oak Park Blvd., Pleasant Hill, 9pm
February 11: It’s a Beautiful Day, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 8pm
February 14: Soulful Security, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 8pm
February 16: Duo Gadjo, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 8pm
February 18: Syria, Back Forty, 100 Coggins Drive, Pleasant Hill, 6pm
February 24: Come Together, PH Community Center, 320 Civic Drive, Pleasant Hill, 7:30pm
February 25: Sin Silver, Rocco’s Pizzeria, 2909 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek, 8pm
February 25: Stung, Dan’s Bar, 1524 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, 10pm