ARTICLE

Jason Mraz sings, dances and steals

We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. comes six years after Jason Mraz saw his major label debut, "Waiting for My Rocket to Come" explode off the success of such hits as "Remedy (I WonÆt Worry)," "You & I Both" and "Curbside Prophet." Shortly thereafter, he returned with his Grammy-nominated, critically acclaimed Mr. A-Z, which continued his chart success with "Wordplay." Throughout, his reputation as a tremendous live act soared.

We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. earned three Grammy nominations, including Song of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "IÆm Yours." The album, Mraz's most self-assured effort to date, is characterized by songs wrapped in clever, observant lyrics and strong, engaging pop melodies, all inspired by "gratitude."

"IÆm Yours" is a warm breeze of a song about generosity, surrender, and openness to lifeÆs infinite possibilities set to a lilting island tempo. A demo of the song sneaked into the world a few years prior to the current release and developed a cult following. ôI considered it my happy little hippy song and wanted to share it even when it was fresh and new. Over the years as we performed it live, it became the song people sang along to at the loudest volume. And they sang it to each other. ThatÆs when I realized I needed to give it a home on this new record.ö

"I'm Yours" has since been certified 4x platinum and made history as the first song ever to top the charts at four pop radio formats: Hot AC, CHR/Top 40, Triple A, and AC. Propelled by the success of the song, We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. has been a breakthrough album internationally for Mraz. More than 2.5 million albums have been sold worldwide. In addition to being certified platinum here in the U.S., the album has also received platinum certification awards in France, Canada, Singapore and Hong Kong, triple platinum status in Korea, double platinum in Australia, with gold records in the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, New Zealand, The Netherlands, and Switzerland.

Another highlight on the album is "Lucky," a simple, endearing duet with platinum singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat. "I got word that she was a fan and might consider working together, so I immediately demanded her phone number," Mraz says with a laugh. He sent her segments of a love song that she and her guitarist Timothy Fagan completed.

Caillat then joined Mraz in a London studio where he recorded the album with producer Martin Terefe, best known for his work with Coldplay and James Morrison (who guests on the intricate ôDetails in the Fabricö).

Terefe, along with songwriter/pianist Sasha Skarbek (who co-wrote James BluntÆs "YouÆre Beautiful"), also played a hand in co-writing some of the tunes with Mraz, including ôLove for a Child,ö a searing autobiographical tale of MrazÆs parentsÆ split when he was five. ôI donÆt usually care to share the crafting of the lyrics,ö Mraz confesses. ôSasha and Martin did a wonderful job introducing me to melodies and textures, while pushing me to sing my instincts. In the case of æLove for a Child,Æ my instincts kept leading me back to getting complete with my parents. I was nervous about it as it isnÆt your typical love song, but I think thatÆs why it resonates with so many. Whether or not youÆre in a relationship, we all have one with our parents. And until you acknowledge them, itÆs hard to practice unconditional love or act with integrity in the rest of your life.ö

While Mraz and Terefe deliberately kept the music stripped down, they added flourishes that distinguish ôWe Singö from standard pop fare, including a gospel choir on ôLive High,ö and operatic embellishments and a childrenÆs chorale on ôCoyotes.ö

ôMartin is an extraordinary artist,ö Mraz says. ôHe holds space for whatever I choose or choose not to express. Putting his producer image aside, he supports the artist. So in my case, both fervency and humor get to be represented. A fine example is his willingness to bookend ôDetails in the Fabricö with the ridiculous voice mail messages left on my phone one afternoon by my good friend/writing partner Bushwalla.ö

The album takes its title from a piece of art by Glasgow-based visual humorist David Shrigley that Mraz saw in Scotland while traveling.

ôWe are a language based species,ö hums Mraz, ôSo anything that comes out of our mouths is our song. Our movement is our dance. And anything we might take for granted, well, consider it stolen moment.ö

For an artist who is so well known for his clever, inspired way with words, it should come as no surprise that many of the songs for ôWe Singö were born from a songwriting game he plays with a number of other artists, including noted Texas-based songwriters Billy Harvey & Bob Schneider. ôBob and company will give me a word or a phrase, and IÆll have to turn that info into a song and email it to everyone else whoÆs playing.ö The impressive verbal torrent that spills forth on ôDynamo of Volitionö that once again shows MrazÆs unmatched ability to sing at the speed of sound, came from being tasked to use the phrase ôblind manÆs bike.ö Similarly, ôCoyotes,ö ôButterfly,ö and ôLuckyö all sprung to life after starting from songwriting challenges. ôThe game is like a support group. ItÆs a way for writers to encourage each other, to stay active in their craft and not get too heady and where their song might end up.ö

MrazÆs songwriting talents were recently recognized when he received the Songwriters Hall of FameÆs esteemed ôHal David Starlight Awardö at the organizationÆs 40th anniversary gala. The awardùgiven to gifted songwriters who are making an impact in the music industry via their original songsùhas previously gone to such artists as Rob Thomas, Alicia Keys, John Mayer, and John Legend.

ôFor me, music is the closest I may ever get to realizing what God is. (Music) is an awesome invisible force that gets under your skin, makes you dance and has the power to transform you. IÆm the most at ease when IÆm wrapped up in a song or deep inside the mania of the creative process. Success to me is the exploration of sound and vibrations and the freedom that exists when you dwell in those spaces. Awards and recognition are always encouraging and nice to receive, but theyÆre just a pageant show compared to the real reward that music gives. Therefore, IÆll be writing songs and setting stages for a long time to come. IÆm hooked on it. And IÆm grateful.ö


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