California-based singer/songwriter Jason Mraz makes laid-back, melodic pop with stylistic nods toward folk, jam band music, hip-hop, and soft rock. Since coming to the public's attention with his 2002 hit single "The Remedy (Don't Worry)," Mraz has proven himself to be a reliable pop craftsman whose crowd-pleasing melodies can encompass both cheeky humor and earnest sincerity. Born in Mechanicsville, Virginia in 1977, Mraz grew up amidst the sounds of the Dave Matthews Band and local roots musicians the Agents of Good Roots. However, it was Mraz's interest and participation in musical theater that served as his first introduction to music. Following high school, he moved to New York to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, but dropped out a year later when he took up the guitar and began to focus on songwriting. Nonetheless, Mraz's training as a vocalist would later show itself on his debut album, which was marked by the pure clarity of his tenor range. After busking around New York, Mraz eventually returned to Virginia; in 1999, however, he made his way out West and settled in San Diego, California, having been drawn to the city's coffeehouse scene and its historical support of singer/songwriters, most notably Jewel. Mraz began playing shows and soon landed a weekly residency at the local hot spot Java Joe's, which had previously played host to Jewel during the early stages of her career. He also formed a duo with drummer Noel "Toca" Rivera, who accompanied Mraz's acoustic material by playing the djembe. Together, the musicians honed a live show that featured as much comedic banter as actual music. Over the next two years, Mraz's following expanded outside of the San Diego limits and began to encompass Los Angeles, garnering the attention of record labels. Mraz signed to Elektra Records in early 2002 and returned to Virginia to write and record his debut album, a project that saw him working with producer John Alagía (the Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer) and his high school heroes, the Agents of Good Roots, who became his backing band. The resulting effort, Waiting for My Rocket to Come, was released that same November, blending Mraz's early influences with elements of country, roots rock, and coffeehouse folk. The buoyant first single, "Remedy (I Won't Worry)," which Mraz had co-written with pop hitmakers the Matrix, proved to be a big hit, and Mraz headed out on the road to support it. One of those shows, an October 2003 date at the Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee, was later documented on Mraz's summer 2004 live release, Tonight, Not Again. The album tided his fans over until July 2005, when the songwriter returned with the sophomore studio effort Mr. A-Z. Mraz's popularity reached a new high in 2008 with the release of We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things, which peaked at number three and spawned his first chart-topping single, "I'm Yours." The concert album Jason Mraz's Beautiful Mess: Live on Earth arrived in 2009, followed by his fourth studio album, Love Is a Four Letter Word, in 2012. In the summer of 2014, Mraz returned with Yes!, which featured backing from the all-female L.A. folk-rock outfit Raining Jane; it was preceded by the single "Love Someone." The following year, Mraz appeared on Sara Bareilles' album What's Inside: Songs from Waitress, singing the songs "Bad Idea" and "You Matter to Me" from her musical Waitress. He then made his Broadway debut in 2017, taking over the role of Dr. Pomatter in Waitress for a ten-week run. Mraz released Know, his sixth album, in August 2018; it debuted at nine on the Billboard Top 200. Know wrapped up Mraz's contract with Atlantic. He signed with Interrabang/BMG in 2020, releasing the reggae album Look for the Good that summer. Recorded with producer Michael Goldwasser, who also founded Easy Star Records, the record featured a cameo by Tiffany Haddish.
© Christina Saraceno /TiVo
© Christina Saraceno /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 15, 2002 | Elektra Records
Jason Mraz's Waiting for My Rocket to Come is a two-part invention. The first level is that of a young, almost compelling, singer/songwriter. Mraz has a nice voice, perhaps a little too articulated at times, which manages to mostly avoid the histrionic despite a predilection towards show tuney melodic turns. His voice tumbles out on top of folk-reggae rhythms that will probably sound a bit dated with time, but his vocals are filled with enough internal rhythms and rhymes to keep them interesting. Lyrically, Mraz relies on cliché to a certain degree, but does so with an earnestness that allows for believability and an eye for imagery that succeeds often enough to suggest that he knows what he's doing. The second level of Waiting for My Rocket to Come is the production of John Alagía, whose work has enhanced other similar folk-pop fair, including the Dave Matthews Band and O.A.R. His work with Mraz is, at its best, transparent, filling out the songs with subtle and glossy production and instrumentation. Reflections of banjos, organs, mellotrons, lap steels, ukuleles, and others peak out through the shine of the tunes, creating an impact too rich to be written off as lite. © Jesse Jarnow /TiVo
Pop - Released August 24, 2004 | Elektra Records
Jason Mraz made quite an impression in 2003 -- the anti-John Mayer even as he was his peer. Mraz built a nationwide coffeehouse on the strength of singles like "The Remedy (I Won't Worry)" and "You and I Both," and those tracks anchor this pleasant live set. Tonight, Not Again finds Mraz to be an engaging performer, able to flutter his voice up and down through registers with incredible ease. He's performing music tailor-made for the Aware Records crowd -- Midwestern college students, open-mike hosts, and guys with beards. Mraz's twittering following eats up every morsel of Tonight, from the soft tones of the title track opener through the drifting "Sleeping to Dream" (his own "Wonderland") and the rousing, smartly lyrical "Too Much Food." Mraz is also shown to have a classic rock flair in his songwriting. "Absolutely Zero" references Pink Floyd's "Us and Them," "Common Pleasure" and "Curbside Prophet" stretch into scat and percussion-filled jams, and he does a nice cover of Elton John's "Rocket Man." John Popper guests, the horn section is a nice touch, and pretty soon Tonight, Not Again becomes a fan-friendly breeze. [Some editions of Tonight, Not Again included a DVD portion with behind-the-scenes footage.] © Johnny Loftus /TiVo
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Jason Mraz in the magazine