Las Vegas Sun

September 19, 2018

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Jason Mraz headlines second-annual Inspire benefit concert at Venetian

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Justin Bettman

Jason Mraz headlines the Inspire concert at the Venetian Theatre on May 18.

The Venetian Theatre will host the second-annual Inspire benefit event presented by Sands Cares this weekend and singer and songwriter Jason Mraz is the well-chosen star of the show.

Mraz’s upbeat, all-positive brand of folk-pop and humorous live performances are the fuel for his many philanthropic and activist efforts. “I try to write songs that help heal wounds and hearts and maybe even families and relationships,” he says. “Music has been very good to me, so as a songwriter I try to be of service and philanthropy is the same thing.”

All proceeds from the concert — at 8 p.m. May 18 at Venetian, with tickets available at 702-414-9000 or venetian.com.—benefit the Sands Cares Accelerator Program, a community partnership in which Las Vegas Sands makes a longer-term investment in nonprofits that have growth and service potential. The Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth recently became the second organization to join the program along with the Marty Hennessy Inspiring Children Foundation.

Here’s the rest of my conversation with Mraz:

The Inspire show is a great fit for you. How did you hear about it? They reached out, hopefully because I have a good reputation for helping out and putting my music into service. I never imagined I would make it as far as I did, so once the bills were paid it didn’t make sense to me to keep accumulating, so I thought about how could I redirect some of this attention and income into programs that need attention and funding. There’s such a great return that comes with championing programs like this and I’m excited to be a part of it.

Your new song “Have It All” is moving up the charts and is all over radio. You’ve said it was inspired by a blessing from a Buddhist monk during your travels. Did that inspiration make it easier to put this song together? Yeah, it was mostly written on the airplane home from Myanmar where I first received that blessing and translated it. I tend to write in primary colors and major chord progressions, to keep it simple, and it came pretty fast this time because the message — that first line, “May you have auspiciousness and causes of success” —was delivered so graciously.

You are definitely known for the positivity in your music. Does that ever become a creative restriction, or do you worry about expectations of the message in your music? Yeah, occasionally, but I’ve almost created those restrictions for myself because I’ve had such success with positivity. Any time I’ve tried to change direction to pursue something sonically or emotionally in my own interest that is a little darker, it’s been rejected, either by my wife or my record label. I’m lucky to have those parameters. Those limitations make me a better writer and a better person.

The last two years to me have been very challenging for many reasons, including the political climate. I’ve been writing lots of songs that are frustrated and had a lot of darkness and weight to them, and I do that partially to clear out my system. But those are not necessarily the songs that are best for me to put out into the world. They could feed the problem and not help solve it. So I’m lucky in the way that I’m pigeonholed into positivity because it brings me back to the light.

You are touring a lot and have been working on more new music. What else is coming up? Any plans to return to the stage after your Broadway run last year in “Waitress” with Sara Bareilles? There will eventually be an album but we’re not making any announcement on that yet. [Acting] is not in my plans now but I would answer my phone if it rang because I loved doing that gig very much. It’s a fun way to be a paid performer without having to call the shots. I loved being part of an ensemble and making the audience laugh and singing beautiful music. It felt like I was doing “Saturday Night Live” every day of the week.