One cannot deny their destiny, regardless of what path they take. Oftentimes, the realization of one's destiny is a time consuming, difficult quest, even when destined for greatness. Mario is one of the few that recognized their gifts very early on as he commenced his journey to success and greatness as a toddler.
Born in Baltimore, MD and now residing in New Jersey, Mario has wanted to sing since he was four years old. He honed his gifts singing along with a karaoke machine and plunking out melodies on the piano his mother bought him. By the time he was in elementary school, Mario was developing harmonies, constructing melodies and finding inspiration in a range of artists including Stevie Wonder, Brian McKnight, Usher and Joe.
As a young teen, Mario was a regular contestant in talent shows. These frequent competitions helped greatly in turning his boyhood dreams and career aspirations into reality. Mario signed to 3rd Street/J Records and immediately began working on his infectious debut; one that showcased label mate Alicia Keys, who declared Mario's voice is "one of the most beautiful I've ever heard."
Mario's first single, "Just a Friend 2002," off his debut and self-titled album, shot up the charts and the video featuring Biz Markie was a fixture on BET and MTV rotations. The positive attention and response from critics, fans and peers alike, was pleasantly surprising to Mario. All listeners were quick to praise his superlative singing and appeal. "I didn't know people would accept it. God was on my side, and I thank him every day for the blessing." The newfound exposure lead to greater opportunities to showcase his talent to the world. Soon after his debut, Mario hit the road as the opening act for Bow-Wow and followed by being part of the Scream 3 Tour, which also boasted B2K, Nick Cannon and Marques Houston. "Being on tour taught me how to handle the stage on my own and now I'm ready to do it again. I'm excited."
Mario's sophomore CD is entitled "Turning Point" and is more than just an R&B album as it is also the follow-up to one of 2002's biggest surprises. Mario was just 15 years old when "Just a Friend 2002" was released but seems confident in how his age and personal growth have affected his work. When asked if he's concerned with making the segue from boyhood to manhood, Mario was forthright. "Any changes that hae taken place between that album and this one have all been natural. I didn't have anybody saying to me, this is what you're going to do. This is what your image is going to be now. It wasn't made up. What everybody is hearing right now is me. It's all natural."
Mario sounds like a well-seasoned, veteran artist when he addresses his approach to recording his new album. "When I went into the studio I wasn't thinking about the last album. I was just thinking about the future, where I'm at now and even where I want to be a year or two from now. I was thinking about how I want people to see me as an artist. On Turning Point I decided to just do what I felt because if you plan stuff out too much you can mess up what's real."
As fans listen to this second album, changes in this young man are easily apparent. "Definitely there's been a change between this album and my last one," Mario affirms. "Changes as far as my voice, my image and most importantly, as far as the topics. They've matured because I've matured. I'm 18 and been through some things as far as relationships and just life in general and so it's only natural that you're going to hear that."
While these changes are certainly heard, they are also strongly felt through his new material. The album includes tracks from some of the hottest producers in the industry, such as Scott Storch and Lil' Jon and also features songs co-written by Mario himself. Mario has fashioned a record that shows you where he is currently and also, where he is going as he blossoms into manhood. Filled with aching ballads, introspective sentiment, hot club tunes and a focused approach that belies his years, Turning Point is a musical snapshot of an artist spreading his creative wings and taking flight with confidence, cool charm and a unique style of his own.
The first single, "Let Me Love You," is a lilting and heartfelt piece produced by Scott Storch, who also did the honors on the raucous "Call the Cops." Co-written by Mario, "Let Me Love You" is Mario at his most emotional; ready to bare his soul and speak his mind. Mario offers, "It's about a girl that's going through a lot with this person that she's with and I see that she's kind of in a transitional period. You know sort of halfway between him and the next guy and so I just ask her why don't you just let me love you? You know what I could do for you. Make me your selection."
Mario continues his theme of dealing with relationships with the passionate "How Could You," written and produced by the Underdogs. Drawn from a real life incident, "How Could You" breaks it down with an honesty that is hard to ignore. "I'm talking about how she broke my heart and hurt me. I felt like it was my time to say how I felt about the situation, to ask how could you let somebody lay where I lay? How could you do this to me?"
Throughout the album Mario uses a range of producers as he worked with well known hit makers such as Scott Storch and newcomers like the Underdogs, Nephew and Harold Lilly. "The new guys give me a fresh sound and make my album different from everyone else's. That's how I've felt I've always been. Even when I came out with "Braid My Hair" (Mario, 2002). Nobody would think that somebody would come out with a song like that and be serious about it!" Mario's unique creativity is evident on his current CD as well. Just check out the sexy and husned "Nikes Fresh Out Tha Box" which subtley uses the metaphor of a pair of kicks to describe the thrill of new love.
One of the album's highlights is the incredible "18," produced by Nephew and featuring Mario's label mate Cassidy. "As soon as I got the track I knew it was a straight up club record and that it was perfect because I wanted to have something that let everybody know that I was coming back. "18" goes out to anybody who felt as though people were holding them back from doing what they want to do or not understanding where they're coming from. Cassidy came in and dropped a hot verse. He laced it! Now that I'm 18 myself the song is to let people know how I feel."
In an industry that has seen its share of baby stars, Mario's dedication to his art and appreciation for his accomplishments is noteworthy. "I think the thing that I've really noticed is that I'm starting to understand what it really means to appreciate family, people, relationships, my fans and life, period. The success I had was so unexpected. I didn't really get a chance to think about it. I just did what I did and didn't say, oh now I have a hit record. I was just being myself."
With plans to attend college, a role in the feature film "Destination Fame" and hopes of more acting opportunities on the horizon, Mario's future is bright as is his outlook. Asked what Turning Point offers his fans and Mario replies, "I'm leetting everybody know that I'm creative, controversial and not stuck on one thing. I'm ready to do it all."
--- from the official Mario website