Back in 2011, Jason Mraz put on the first of what became annual concerts to benefit Virginia’s School of Performing Arts in the Richmond Community, in which the students and beneficiaries participate in the performance. Nine years later, Mraz is bringing a similar concept to his hometown of San Diego. On February 15 and 16, he’ll perform Shine at Spreckels Theatre, a concert based on his catalog that features performances by local arts education groups, including Malashock Dance, Banding Together, and San Diego Youth Chorus, all of whom have been awarded grants from the Jason Mraz Foundation.
Here, the Grammy Award winner and Oceanside resident talks about raising up the local arts community.
How did the concept for this production come about?
I’ve been doing a similar production in Virginia for the past eight years—that’s my other hometown, Richmond, Virginia. I’ve given a lot of time and money from my foundation to that program, and it’s been incredibly transformative—not just for the artists who get involved, or the students who are thrown into this new kind of performing arts mash-up, but for the community at large. For the past couple of years, I’ve been thinking, “I’ve gotta get this to San Diego, I’ve gotta figure out how to do that.” We’ve basically been looking around the community to see what exists. And we’ve found some really amazing programs, basically tapped them on the shoulder and acknowledged them, [like] “we see you’re doing great things; would you like some support and/or would you like to get involved with us in this kind of showcase concert experience?” That’s where we are now.
You have a lot of popular and talented friends who could attract audiences. So, why instead utilize the local community, specifically the San Diego arts community, for this concert?
It was important to us that that first year we try to do this show that it’s about the community. Let’s shine on what we have in common, let’s shine on the things we all get to share that maybe as San Diegans we take for granted because we see it all the time. This really is a beautiful county with a lot to offer. And a very beautiful, diverse community that has a lot to offer. By shining on that community, we can really showcase what San Diego’s all about. We decided to make it a local show, for locals—and who knows where it will go from here?
"This is a beautiful county with a lot to offer. By shining on that, we showcase what San Diego's all about."
Why use your platform to direct people toward causes that are meaningful to you?
I’ve been doing charity work for many years, and I’ll always show up for somebody else’s organization. But in the back of my mind, I knew that someday it sure would be nice to have my own, to be able to direct my own energy and my own team. It’s just taken years to figure out what that’s going to look like. The Shine concert is essentially our relaunch party that says, “We’re here, we’re a foundation, we have momentum. And these are the kinds of programs that we look forward to breathing life into.” I’ve been wanting to do something locally when I’m not touring. Or even if I was touring, I would know that my backyard is being served here in San Diego. That’s been important to me, probably because my idols did it.