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18 year old Mario, R&Bís newest superstar, has a constantly melodic way with words. Whether heís skilfully singing his platinum-selling hit single Let Me Love You, or talking to you over the phone from across the world, you canít help but feel that the smooth, laid-back tone of his voice was just made for repeat listening. And listening, definitely repeatedly, is exactly what kept this young singer at number 1 on the Billboard charts for 9 weeks.

The Record featured him as an artist to watch for last month. This month the singer talks to us exclusively about growing up in the limelight, quirky song titles, the strangest place heís heard his biggest hit, and the misunderstanding behind what is really a very simple song.

The Record (TR): Youíre performing in Australia Ė how has it been?
Mario: It was great! I think they really enjoyed it. And I got to go out and party a little after the show so it was great.

TR: Let Me Love You is one of your biggest songs Ė give us some exclusive trivia about the track.
Mario: I recorded that song about six times!

TR: Wow, thatís a lot!
Mario: Yeah. I would record it, be okay with it, but then go back and record it till I got it [just right]. Sometimes that happens. And it was produced by Scott Storch who is an awesome producer.

TR: What is the most unusual place youíve heard it play in?
Mario: In my dream!

TR: Really?
Mario: Yeah. I was on a mountain and the music was coming from the skyÖ like from heaven!

TR: Amazing! Now, Braid My Hair and Nikes Fresh Out The Box are some interesting song titles. Is that becoming a Mario trademark?
Mario: Something like that. I always like to put songs on the album that only I would do Ė something that people would definitely listen to and go ĎOh thatís Marioí. I think this album definitely has a lot of different types of songs. Thereís something for everybody on there.

TR: The first song, 18, is a great club track Ė but there is also a message behind it. Tell us about that.
Mario: Well, there is, but itís not the message that everybody thinks there is. People think sometimes that Iím beefing it with, like, Usher, but the song is really to people, sayingÖwhen I came out with my first album, a lot of people didnít expect me to do anything really after that because I was so young. So with this song, with the album Turning Point, I just wanted to start out by saying ĎLook before you compare me, or underestimate me, let me just tell you who I am as an artist firstí. Not anything negative, but I just think sometimes people will make up a story for you, or theyíll say what they think you are or what you feel. But youíve got to say it yourself sometimes so thatís what the song is all about.

TR: Tell us about your live show.
Mario: Well, I go on right before Destinyís Child [who Iím touring with]. In the show I have an opening sequence, where I pay homage to one of the greatest singers - I canít tell you the name because I want you to see the show Ė but someone who is one of my favourite singers. I just want to show that I am a true singer and this is how I get down. Itís going great. Weíre pretty busy, I havenít really had a chance to sit down and talk [to the girls from Destinyís Child] but itís all going great so far. Itís kind of like a little family there.

TR: What songs really get the crowd going?
Mario: Most of the time Let Me Love You. A lot of the other songs some people donít know yet. This is a whole new thing for me Ė Iím introducing myself to people, with songs other than Let Me Love You, new songs, songs off my last album that people may have heard but didnít know it was mine. Itís definitely a blessing.

You can read the rest of our exclusive with Mario in the May 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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