There’s a Post-it note of personal goals Mario Jose carries; a note he would check once in a while to help him stay on track of his dreams. With one of the brightest smiles in Los Angeles, it is certain that he has accomplished one of those goals—to step out of Berklee College of Music an educated musician. And now with the release of his debut record Heart of Gold, the world now has the opportunity to hold its breath and listen to the golden voice its long been waiting for.
The lively 28-year-old has always been surrounded by music. His father, a first-generation Filipino trombone player, and his mother, an Italian singer, brought Jose up with all the support that would lead him to where he is today. They raised him on the soulful voices of Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, and powerhouse singers Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Céline Dion.
A life of music was inevitable, and Jose knew right from the start that it would be his main focus. He attempted writing as a teenager and while he was a student at Berklee, but didn’t feel that he was giving his all until he sat down with songwriter JP Saxe. “I don’t want to write songs that have already been written,” Jose tells BillboardPH. “I want to tell my story, but I want to do it right. I want to make sure that this is something coming from my heart the way people know me.” He adds that his friends would describe him as a goofy, crazy, and emotional kind of guy, and that was exactly what he wanted to capture in his writing.
On September 10, 2015, Jose wrote his first song with Saxe called “Tell Me Now,” a track that would later on inspire him to produce Heart of Gold. And in less than a year, Jose had co-written six songs for his debut. “I just got over my fear of writing and I’m happy—so happy with it,” Jose confesses.
Since moving to Los Angeles, Jose admits that life from 2015 has been a complete 180, as he then appeared in a cover video with Superfruit, Mary Lambert, and Brian Justin Crum for Katy Perry’s “Rise,” which has garnered over 4 million views on YouTube. His latest collaborative effort reimagines “Georgia On My Mind,” backed by a choir, a full band, and an orchestra, opening this season’s The Loft Sessions.
Early last year, he went on the road with Pentatonix, and the a cappella group surprised him by having him open an arena show in Boston with a half-hour set in front of 7,300 people. At one point, he sang Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” and closed his eyes for the third verse. When he opened his eyes again, all he saw before him was a sea of lights illuminating the arena. Jose says, “That was the moment I knew that that was where I belonged. (From there) I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.”
Finally, with Heart of Gold breaking into the Top 50 iTunes Pop Charts, Jose might need a new Post-it note of goals to fill. “If there was a way to get out and do a show in the Philippines,” says Jose. “I would take it in a heartbeat. It’s a part of my heritage that I’d really want to learn more about and explore.” He nods with a sunny smile, a smile that tells he has a lot to share with the world, and the world awaits for more.
— ⓜⓐⓡⓘⓞ ⓙⓞⓢⓔ (@HeyItsMarioJose) October 7, 2016
- Heart of Gold
- Tell Me Now
- Try Me
Mario Jose’s Heart of Gold EP is available on iTunes.
PHOTO COURTESY OF AMMO ARTIST MANAGEMENT
This article originally appeared on Billboard Philippines.