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Mario | Features

Mario SaveOurSoul artist of the Month October 2002


Check out the lyrics section for Mario lyrics


Teen-age singing prodigy Mario, whose debut album will be released on July 9, 2002, began life as a big dreamer. In fact, he knew he wanted to be an entertainer when he was only 4 years old. Recalling the day he'd answered the career question, the 15 year old says, " I was downstairs in my house barely dressed wearing mismatching shoes. My mother heard me singing and at first she thought it was the radio playing loud. When she came downstairs she was shocked when she realized that it was me."

Every artist needs tools for his trade so upon discovering her son's expressive yet smooth, unconstrained, completely honest vocal ability she provided Mario with a karaoke machine and a piano which she played quite well herself. The result was simple. "I played with the tools that she had given me and went for broke! From that experience I have learned to create and develop harmonies by just listening to the melodies."

Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Mario now resides in Northern New Jersey where he is a sophomore in high school. The former frequent talent show contestant remembers when not so long ago, he would enter more singing competitions than he could count. Fortunately for Mario the end result would have him fulfilling his dream of becoming the entertainer he was born to be.

Forging ahead, within months Mario - whose musical influences are Usher, Brian McKnight, Joe and Stevie Wonder - went into the studio to record his debut album for J Records. The albums first single "Just A Friend 2002" was written and produced by musical veteran Warryn Campbell and pays tribute to the 80's hip-hop hit "Just A Friend" by legendary rapper Biz Markie. Markie is featured in the video clip of "Just A Friend 2002" which was shot on location in Mario's hometown of Baltimore, Maryland.

In addition to Campbell's contributions, Mario's debut features production by Harvey Mason (Brandy, Babyface, Tyrese), Gerald Isaac (Mary J. Blige, Angie Stone) and five-time Grammy winner Alicia Keys who contributes two stand-out cuts " Put Me On" and "2 Train." "Not only is he full of personality" says Alicia, "he has one of the most beautiful and original voices I've ever heard from such a young man. He doesn't sound like anyone else and he already knows what he wants to do vocally. With time, he will only master this even more. That's my lil' man and I'm watchin' over him."

When time permits Mario plays video games and football with his friends. "I have a thing for Playstation and I'm really competitive. When I'm not doing that I'm getting together with my friends and talking or playing football," says Mario. But since his free time is now far and few between, Mario will focus on preparing for his debut album to top the charts. "Maybe after I jump start my music career, I'll get into acting. Starring in a movie with Jada Pinkett-Smith," says Mario with a wide grin, "but until then, my main concern is making big things happen with this album." backstage interview with Mario Mario, this is your first time on Soul Train. How do you feel? What is it like?
Mario: I feel like I'm ready. I'm just ready to go out there and show the crowd what's up. Oh, look at the [girls dancing on Soul Train], there's some good looking girls out there, bro. You just don't see things like this everyday, ya know what I'm sayin'. This is actually a good, strong show right here, the longest running show in history, I mean, nothing better, ya see what I'm sayin'?

ST: So Mario how were you discovered?
Mario: I started singing in talent shows and stuff like that. Anthony Jeeter, he's a talent show host in Balitmore. He got me in the talent show that was at Dunbar High School in Baltimore. My manager Troy Patterson was there. So he wanted to set up a meeting with me, but he had to leave and go back home to Jersey. So he called Anthony Jeeter and Anthony Jeeter called me, told me, 'Yo, you're gonna drive up to Jersey and meet this manager and producer by the name of Trey Patterson.' [I said], 'Alright, cool.' So we drive up there, we meet, and over the years, you know, we try to get this group thing going - me with a group - but it didn't work out. So Trey and me decided that it would be best for me to go solo. He knew Peter Ash from J Records and he got me in a meeting with Clive Davis. So, I went in the meeting, and I didn't really know who Clive was at the time, but I got my chance, you know. I sung for him, I Wish by Carl Thomas and I'll Make Love to You'by Boyz II Men, and it just worked out from there. I started in the studio working on my album and everything. We're almost done, we got like two more songs to do. The first single, Just A Friend, which you will be hearing real soon. Then we got, well we don't know what the second single's gonna be yet, but the album will be out in June. Trying to do big things.

ST: Now that you know who Clive Davis is, what is it like working with him?
Mario: He's the best, I mean, he's the top of the game right now, you know what I'm sayin'. Alicia Keys, he made her blow up like crazy. She took off. She was just doing talent shows or whatever with her band. I guess Clive took her under his wing and just made her fly away, you know? He's definitely doing big things. Clive is the best, he's got a lot of energy in him. He's ready to do anything to make his artist huge, you see what I'm sayin'.

ST: Now a lot of people are anticipating your album, Mario. Are you nervous about living up to everyone's expectations?
Mario: Not really, I'm ready to get out there and just do what I have to do to make people understand what's going on, you know what I'm sayin'. It's not [that I'm weak] or nervous, it's just, I'm doin' me. I can't do nothing else but do me.

ST: So, tell me about this Braid My Hair song.
Mario: We thinkin' that Braid My Hair is gonna be the second single. Hopefully, it will be. It's kinda like I'm workin' and everything, I get tired, I get all this stuff comin' at me. Sometimes I just wanna go home and tell my girl to braid my hair, you know what I'm sayin', it's kinda like that. It's on the, like, I'm Missin' You-type vibe, ya see what I'm sayin'.

ST: Now, I understand you're a romantic guy with flowers and candy and all that, tell us about that.
Mario: Flowers and candy? Who told you that. Letters, I like writing letters. Flowers is good. Males my age don't know about the flowers and candy. As a woman, if I was to marry you or if I was to come in a limousine to your house and give you some flowers and candy, how would that make you feel? Nice, right? That's basically where I'm at with it.

ST: Last question, tell us some of your hobbies and your favorite things.
Mario: Well, I like dirt bikes, I like talkin' on the phone, chillin' with my boys, whatever. I like playing games, basketball, football, everything that a fifteen year old does.

ST: What do we have to look forward with Mario?
Mario: Good music, great songs, vocals, good live performances. No kiddy, no kiddy, no kiddy stuff. So, thanks for this interview. I'm glad to be here. Watch out - I'm comin' for ya!

Copyright © 2002,

Turning Point
Mario - Turning Point Track Listing:
1. 18
2. Let Me Love You
3. Couldn't Say No
4. Boom
5. How Could You
6. Girl I Need
7. Call the Cops

8. Here I Go Again
9. Nikes Fresh Out the Box
10. Directions
11. Like Me Real Hard
12. Shakedown
13. Let Me Love You [Remix]
click here to buy Turning Point
Mario - Mario Track Listing:
1. Just A Friend
2. C'mon
3. Briad My Hair
4. 2 Train
5. What Your Name Is
6. Holla Back

7. Could U Be
8. Put Me On
9. Chick Wit Da Braids
10. Never
11. Girl In The Picture
click here to buy Mario


Mario Aims Wide With J Records Debut
By Gail Mitchell (with additional reporting by Rashaun Hall)

Just because he's young, don't dismiss Mario as another teen artist. According to J Records chief Clive Davis, Mario is special in that he also possesses adult appeal. "Yes, he's 15, and teens and younger kids like him," Davis notes. "But we know through call-out [research] that we have mass appeal here. He's an original with an amazing vocal range."

Mario is currently making a name for himself with lead single "Just a Friend 2002" from his eponymous July 23 debut. An update of the 1989 Biz Markie hip-hop jam "Just a Friend" and produced by Warryn Campbell.

Mario's debut set also features production by Harvey Mason, Gerald Isaac, and award-winning labelmate Alicia Keys, who contributes two songs, including "Put Me On." Initially appearing on the "Dr. Doolittle 2" soundtrack (on "Tameeka" featuring rapper Fabolous), Mario came to Davis' attention one year ago by way of a talent show in the artist's native Baltimore -- the breeding ground of such acts as Dru Hill and Ruff Endz.

"At the time, I didn't really know who Clive was, so I had to do my research," recalls Mario. "I went to his office and sang for him. After that, things just started taking off."

Calling to mind a young Michael Jackson or Tevin Campbell, Mario's assured vocals definitely belie the singer's 15 years. That comes across particularly well on the simple yet deep ballad "Never" about not hurting or disrespecting a girlfriend.

Mario notes, "I know [the song] is a little mature, but I've already been through a couple of things. When I first heard the song, I could understand exactly what was going on. I also needed something like that on my album, because I don't always want to attract listeners my age. I want to attract all ages."

In addition to airplay on BET and MTV of the video clip for "Friend," Mario has made appearances on the respective channels' "106 & Park" and "Total Request Live" shows. The artist will also star in a half-hour Nickelodeon special this month and contributes the track "Put Me On" to the "Like Mike" soundtrack (So So Def/Sony Music Soundtrax).

Sounding wiser than his age attests, Mario says he's not in "this for the girls, fame, or money. And I'm not trying to imitate anyone. I'm doing my own thing. That's it."