Singer/songwriter Jason Mraz hails from Mechanicsville, VA, where he grew up as a fan of the Dave Matthews Band and local roots musicians the Agents of Good Roots. But it was Mraz’s interest and participation in musical theater that was his first introduction to music. Mraz moved to New York following high school to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy but dropped out a year later when he took up the guitar and began to focus on songwriting. Nonetheless, Mraz’s training as a vocalist would show itself on his debut album which is marked by the pure clarity and range of his vocals.
After busking around New York, Mraz eventually returned to Virginia; but, in 1999, he ultimately made his way West, settling in San Diego, CA, known for its coffeehouse scene and support of singer/songwriters, most notably Jewel. Mraz began playing local shops and landed a weekly slot at local hot-spot Java Joe’s. At the same time, Mraz met drummer Toca Rivera and the two began performing together — Mraz on acoustic guitar, Rivera on djembe — honing a live show that featured as much comedic banter between the two as music.
Over the next two years, Mraz’s following grew outside of San Diego to Los Angeles, garnering the attention of record labels. In early 2002, Mraz signed to Elektra Records and returned to Virginia to write and record his debut album, working with producer John Alagía (the Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer) and his high school heroes, the Agents of Good Roots, as his backing band. The resulting effort, Waiting for My Rocket to Come, was released in November of 2002. It blended Mraz’s early influences and coming-of-age sensibilities with country, roots rock, the poeticism of coffeehouse folk, elements of jazz, and hip-hop’s rhythmic charge. The buoyant first single “Remedy [I Won't Worry]” (co-written by Mraz with pop hitmakers the Matrix) was a hit, and Mraz headed out on the road to support it. One of those shows, an October 2003 date at the Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee, became Mraz’ summer 2004 live release Tonight, Not Again. it tided his fans over until July 2005, when he returned with the sophomore studio effort Mr. A-Z. – Christina Saraceno