Jason Mraz shares his music’s Richmond connection

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The world knows Jason Mraz for his mellow sound and soulful storytelling, but there is something else very special in his lyrics. Many of them have deep roots in Richmond.

“When I am writing music, I keep a list of family members and friends in my life that I can and should write about,” Mraz tells 8News Anchor Amy Lacey.

Mraz, who grew up in Mechanicsville, says he also thinks about his teachers, both in Hanover County Public Schools and the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC), where he is an artistic advisor and donor today.

Grammy winner Jason Mraz sits down one-on-one with 8News Anchor Amy Lacey.
Grammy winner Jason Mraz sits down one-on-one with 8News Anchor Amy Lacey.

“I think about whether I’m going to sing about lessons they taught me or sing about certain experiences or sing about my circumstances in Richmond,” he explained about his songwriting process. “I also sing about making them proud.”

Mraz says he wants to make Richmond proud because he is proud to be from here.  He explains he typically comes back to Richmond a few times each year, and he is involved in the community. Mraz is already working on the SPARC LIVE ART: Dream show scheduled for June 11, 2017 at the Altria Theater.

“When I am writing music, I keep a list of family members and friends in my life that I can and should write about,” Mraz tells 8News Anchor Amy Lacey.

Mraz is also amazed at the evolution the River City has seen these past few years.

“When I come back, I get to be in the RVA, which didn’t exist when I lived here,” he mentions the moniker that has helped push Richmond into the spotlight. “RVA can be applied to your craft or your community, your scene and I like that.”

Mraz, a self-proclaimed coffee enthusiast, considers Lamplighter a favorite Richmond spot, along with familiar places from his past.

“When I was in high school, I would come to The Fan to get inspiration and mingle with the VCU gang,” he remembers. “I love to stroll through Carytown or get lost in The Fan.”

“To be able to break through all of that and be recognized is,” Mraz pauses to collect his thoughts. “It’s a little unbelievable actually.”

Mraz has seen success on a global stage and has earned almost two dozen nominations and wins at awards shows in the United States and Europe. Highlights include a nomination at the American Music Awards in 2009 and two Grammys in 2010.

“To be able to break through all of that and be recognized is,” Mraz pauses to collect his thoughts. “It’s a little unbelievable actually.”

About hearing his name at awards shows as a nominee or winner, Mraz says, “I thought me? I sometimes felt like a hack or a copycat or a bit [like] someone who didn’t deserve to be on that stage. When you get these acknowledgments, they’re huge. They’re so huge in that any recognition encourages me to keep going rather than give up on myself.”

He is humbled by the accolades but says it is not his drive. Now he uses what he has learned to guide the next generation of performers on their path.

“I always encourage people to put the music first. Music is its own reward,” he said.

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