To help with his singing, American singer- songwriter Jason Mraz, 37, turns to a remedy familiar to many Singaporeans – a bottle of Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa.
Describing his pre-show rituals, the two-time Grammy winner says: “I always eat a healthy meal. Then I warm up my body with a short yoga routine and I warm up my voice with music – I sing.
“I make myself a strong cup of mint tea with a very delicious syrup in it – it’s called Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa.”
He will have no problems stocking up on the Chinese herbal syrup when he comes to Singapore to perform at The Star Theatre on Nov 17 and 18.
These may be among his last shows. In recent interviews, he has announced that he wants to retire before turning 40. “Nothing will make me change my mind. I’m looking forward to it,” he says of his plans to bow out of the music industry and focus on tending his farm in California and doing charity work.
The two gigs in Singapore come 2½ years after his last performance here at Gardens by the Bay.
While that show was a full-on concert – and part of the garden’s opening celebrations – his new shows will see him go acoustic for a more intimate feel.
He adds: “This time I’m bringing with me Raining Jane – they are the collaborators in my new album, Yes!. And it’s their first time in Singapore so it’s a brand new show.”
Yes!, released in July, is Mraz’s fifth full-length release and his first acoustic album.
Since 2007, he has been working with the four women who make up folk-rock band Raining Jane, comprising Mai Bloomfield, Becky Gebhardt, Chaska Potter and Mona Tavakoli.
He describes the tunes on the album, which peaked at No. 2 in the Billboard charts, as “songs of hope”.
He says: “If I need help remembering forgiveness and if I need help remembering acceptance and compassion, then the songs that I am writing will help me remember that. They are going to be my mantras to remind me of these needs in life and in our humanity.”
Indeed, songs such as You Can Rely On Me (There’s so much you wanna try that you haven’t tried yet/Ooh, I’ve got your back through all of it, yes I do/ Yeah, you can rely on me, yes you can) and 3 Things (I go where I know the love is and let it fill me up inside/Gathering new strength from sorrow/I’m glad to be alive) convey optimism.
He adds: “The physical world can sometimes be full of conflict and I go more to a more peaceful world which is a lot more calm. Music is my spiritual practice and optimism helps us to calm ourselves from the conflict of the world, conflicts of the mind.”
Born and raised in Virginia, he started out singing in coffee houses in San Diego and released his major label debut album, Waiting For My Rocket To Come, in 2002.
He came into the limelight when a single from that album, The Remedy (I Won’t Worry) became popular and peaked at No. 15 in the Billboard charts.
All his subsequent albums have made the top five on Billboard and contain hit singles such as I’m Yours from his 2008 album, We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. Another hit was I Won’t Give Up, from 2012’s Love Is a Four Letter Word.
At the 2010 Grammy Awards, he picked up two prizes – Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for the single Make It Mine and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for Lucky, his duet with singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat.
A vegan, he is also well-known as an environmental advocate. In 2011, he set up the The Jason Mraz Foundation, which supports education, human equality and pro-environment charities.
He credits his fans for supporting his social causes, adding: “My fans are a big part of that. We have some very loyal and generous fans around the world who join us in our efforts to leave the world a better place than when we found it.”
Mraz is fond of playing to his fans in Asia, saying that the warm reception from this part of the world always “makes for a great show”.
He adds: “I always get a good vibe. The audiences are welcoming and very accepting, and I like that.
“I’m grateful to have the opportunity. I also feel the vibes in Asia are respect and listening, which are really lovely to perform to.”
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on October 9, 2014. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.