Music does many things, but perhaps the most powerful aspect of this art form is to uplift moods. It’s a power not many avenues in the world are able to conjure, but it’s exactly what we need—and singer-songwriter Jason Mraz has projected that power tenfold with his latest album and tour.
Mraz’s tour Look For The Good Live! kicked off late last month on July 30 at Austin’s legendary Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater and will run until the end of this month with a stop at the Mann Center in Philadelphia this weekend on Aug. 20. Mraz will be performing with a 13-piece reggae band and audiences can expect to hear some old favorites along with some new tunes based off of his newest album, “Look For The Good.”
The artist says that the album was inspired by the past few years and specifically optimism—or the lack thereof.
“When I say that, I say that because when I’m feeling pessimistic or I’m feeling down or defeated as the last couple of years has laid out for us…I felt like, gosh I need more. I need more for the good, I need to figure out how to be a little more optimistic and use my superpowers for good,” says Mraz. “So, I’ve been writing songs and I do that to cheer myself up and shift my language and perspective in the world.”
For the tour, Mraz and Michael Goldwasser’s reggae group have teamed up to bring some of the new tunes to audiences around the county.
“Reggae historically would sing of revolution,” explains Mraz. “It would sing of spirituality, it would sing of love and that’s where I was. I wanted to be part of the revolution, I wanted to be a part of presenting spirit in the divine so that we treat each other better and I want to present love so that we’re more generous and we’re more energized to help each other.
“Doing those songs and starting to write songs out of that calling, it’s not easy to do with just a rock groove or an acoustic soul groove. It was always hard for me to find my groove in a production. But working with Michael and this reggae band, the groove was undeniable. One day I hope to put out an acoustic of this album because the groove and melody [are] just still so powerful and so yummy. Working with Michael and creating this was really the right pairings for these songs…It’s all about the groove.”
Mraz recently also put out a deluxe new version of his Grammy Award-winning duet “Lucky” with R&B artist Emily King, reimagined as a ska song. In addition to the original track-list of “Look For The Good,” the deluxe edition will include three never-before-released songs as well as new renditions of “Make It Mine,” “Lucky,” and “I’m Yours.” Audiences can expect some of the newly imagined tracks of old favorites to be performed, but also some new beats to hear for the very first time live as well.
“It’s actually hard to figure out what songs to play when we only have two hours because if we play the whole new album, it would leave out some old songs and old favorites,” Mraz explains. One new track that shows off the notable tongue-twisting style of the singer is “DJ FM AM JJASON.”
“It’s a fun track, I don’t even write myself time to breathe in it, so singing that while dancing around on stage has been a blast. Another song of similar gravitas is “Take the Music” which is seven verses about the transformative power of music and what it does for us,” Mraz continues. “With [these songs] I get to be on stage to do these tongue twisters that are both teaching and tickling the fan of lyrical humor.”
Mraz, however, doesn’t just bring the good vibes to his concerts, he also outputs that ideology globally as well. According to a release, Mraz heads his own Jason Mraz Foundation, whose mission it is to shine for inclusive arts education and the advancement of equality. The Jason Mraz Foundation has donated more than $1 million to various nonprofits supporting these ideals. On top of his foundation, all of Mraz’s profits, including his album advance and subsequent profits, from “Look For The Good” will be donated to various nonprofits. Those organizations that benefitted include Black Lives Matter, San Diego Young Artists Music Academy, RISE San Diego, Grassroots Law Project, Center on Policy Initiatives and the Equal Justice Initiative.
“I have the most ridiculous job in the world. I would be doing this anyway. I love entertaining people and I love making things up and making myself laugh. That little coffee shop show has just continued to cause one little break after the next or one invitation to occur after the next…and I’ve gotten to go all over the world and do this act—and that’s all it is, an act. So, I have to be grateful,” explains Mraz. “This is such a weird world and for whatever reason, I got the gift of gab and I got the gift to be able to sing and entertain, and people give me their time and attention. So, to make it worth it for me, I had to set up paths for giving back to those who inspired me. I sing about change and I sing about peace and love and let’s help each other… I do that because I met people who are there on the ground helping people and who are causing change. If I can help redirect the spotlight to those organizations with my voice, or with my dollars, then that is so important to me.”
Those who are looking to buy tickets ($25-$50) for Mraz’s concert this Friday at the Skyline Stage can do so online. It’s a big deal for most that live music is back, especially for performers. But in a time where nothing is really certain, Mraz hopes to make one thing concrete: Positivity, no matter what.
“It’s an enormous honor and privilege to take this circus on the road. People are giving us their greatest wealth when they come to a show, which is their time and attention,” finishes Mraz. “So, I feel an enormous responsibility to make them feel good about that choice they made to park their cars or take an Uber or get a sitter or be in the presence of 3,000 people after we’ve not had that experience for a while. There are a lot of potential things that could distract and ruin the experience for someone and I don’t want that to happen on my watch. So I come at this with enormous gratitude and see what an honor it is and I try to take the audience through a light-hearted transformational journey from their heads to their heart and help us reframe our perspective on things. On the surface, it’s just two hours to forget your cares, and let’s sing some harmonies together.”