Volume 96, Issue 100
Tuesday, April 8, 2003

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Mraz rockets to success

By Andrea Chiu
Gazette Staff

Gazette file photo

Who is Jason Mraz?

At times Mraz is a walking contradiction – a skinny, baby-faced young man with an intense glare and cigarette in hand. He's the kind of personality that keeps you guessing and wondering what goes on in his head under that mesh-back hat of his.

His music doesn't fall under one category either, but is instead comfortingly eclectic. Mraz's latest album, Waiting for my Rocket To Come, has drawn him comparisons to musicians like Dave Matthews, and even Jeff Buckley. The record is his first full-length release and may not have happened if he believed what most parents tell their kids: education first.

While higher learning may be a priority for some of us, for Mraz this was not the case. Instead, he did what he felt was right: he moved to California to pursue his dream of singing.

"I first tried musical theatre college, but I didn't want to commit to the acting and dancing," Mraz says. "I started playing the guitar [at 18-years-old] so I could sing everyday and everywhere. I tried college a second time assuming that I would get a little education and eat there and stuff. Eventually, it was the college loans that persuaded me to move to California."

Mraz settled in San Diego, quite a distance from his home in Virginia, but distance and change were exactly what he wanted.

"I wanted to be somewhere new and be the new guy in town, and that's where I wanted to start playing."

It was in California that Mraz settled and began developing a solid fan following. He played at local coffee shops – similar to Jewel, whom he performed with – but Mraz never lived in a van. He recalls those early days on the West Coast with happiness.

"It was great. I wasn't bound by a schedule and [I was] free to roam the country."

In recent months, Mraz has toured the continent and as far as Australia and Europe with the likes of The Dave Matthews Band and Tracy Chapman.

During the tours, he has posed with his rooster sidekick, the one that appears with him on the cover of his record. But it's a stuffed cock – not a real live animal. Still, he means something to Mraz.

"He's my little alter-ego for the album," Mraz describes. "The rooster represents an ambitious figure; he's something you wake up to. He's cocky, there's sexual references, and I'm trying to be as optimistic and ambitious as possible – like him."

Tonight, Mraz rolls into Centennial Hall with Canadian songstress Chantal Kreviazuk. While Kreviazuk has not shied away from being outspoken about the situation in Iraq, Mraz is hesitant to discuss politics when asked if he feels pressure as a public figure to speak out.

"My job as entertainer is to use my time onstage as an escape, to make the audience feel good about themselves and take them back into love and happiness and that good stuff," Mraz says. "I think there's more important things to be concerned about, like healing rather than bashing."

Jason Mraz performs tonight at Centennial Hall as the opening act for Chantal Kreviazuk. Tickets are still available at the door and the show begins at 8 p.m..


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