All posts by Cory Alexander Haywood

Greetings! My loved ones know me as Cory Alexander Haywood. You may call me anything you want. Just don't call me "soft spoken." Indeed, my love affair with the English language began during my childhood. Back then, nouns, adjectives, synonyms and transitive verbs were of greater interest to me than any game of kickball (however, basketball will always be my first love.) Over the years, I've dabbled in a variety of writing genres (even those that bore me.) In my opinion, no topic is too great or complex for a seasoned and patient writer. I aspire to eventually reach that plateau, and am well on my way. Stylistically, creative writing best suits my fancy. However, in the summer of 2006, I wrote my first newspiece (it's been a match made in heaven ever since.) The majority of my published work, which spans more than 6 years, relates to politics, social and community awareness, as well as health and wellness. I also occasionally, and some might say nonsensically, explore the ins and outs of love, dating and relationships. I have no expertise,specialty or preference in regard to genre. Instead, I keep an open mind and spirit, thus my outlook remains pure. Simply put, I'm no one trick pony. To contact me, please email [email protected]
nicki minaj (anaconda cover)

Halle Sexed Billy Bob, Katy Perry Kisses Girls – Why Throw Stones At Bootylicious Nicki Minaj?

NICKI MINAJ 1 photo

The curvaceous rapper has earned millions from shaking her moneymaker. What have you done with your ass lately?

*When rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot released his only chart topping hit, “Baby Got Back” in 1991, he unknowingly set the groundwork for Nicki Minaj’s newest single, “Anaconda.” Her rump-shaking anthem raises the bar in its objectification of the female anatomy, and it’s rapidly becoming a source of vitriol to enraged viewers worldwide.

There’s also a music video to go along with this new song—it’s littered with neon-colored thongs, revealing denim shorts, thigh-hugging spandex, bouncing oily cleavage, and of course Nicki Minaj’s surgically enhanced, virtually nude derriere. She and a gyrating booty-wiggling brigade of scantily clad exotic dancers participate in a four minute, exhibition of synchronized coochy-popping.

Judging by the video, Minaj’s forthcoming album will imaginably contain enough pornographic material that it should come with a bottle of Jergens, a hand-towel, and a few Monte Cristo cigars.

Anaconda pours it on thick with provocative burlesque twerking and shameless sexual innuendo. Minaj upped the ante when she used these elements during her X-rated VMA performance (Video Music Awards). Dressed in fish-net stockings and not much else, Minaj and her backup dancers deflowered the stage with a choreographed routine of fervid dry-humping and pelvis-grinding. While many of the female celebrities in attendance appeared turned off by Minaj’s raunchy display, the men could barely contain their enthusiasm, leaving puddles of drool underneath the crowded seats. It was bedlam—and one of the evening’s most exhilarating moments.

Although Minaj’s off-the-wall antics have transformed her into one the more polarizing figures in music, she comes from a long lineage of female entertainers who have exploited their sexuality for monetary gain. This formula has produced countless “it girls” throughout entertainment history.

Christina Aguilera chucked her squeaky clean image and got “Dirrty” in 2002. Beyonce has morphed into a G-string wearing sadomasochist. Katy Perry, like Madonna, plays tongue hockey with other girls…and she likes it. Even middle-aged Angela Basset, one of Hollywood’s leading ladies, dropped her underpants and got freaky with a young, strapping Jamaican fry-cook in “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.” So why is there a lynch mob aiming for nasty Nicki?

Although many of her fans aren’t old enough to purchase condoms legally, Minaj shouldn’t be raked over the coals for promoting sex, sex and more sex.  It’s standard procedure. For women in entertainment, the road to superstardom is often paved in naked flesh and cosmetic enhancement. Minaj has already gone public about her ass injections. Now she’s giving the music world a strip tease it’s never seen.

From Broadway to Tinseltown and every celebrity-breeding ground in between, many envelope-pushers have parlayed their sex-appeal into highly lucrative careers. Some have even managed to become icons of their respective eras. If Minaj plays her cards correctly, she’ll leave a legacy that censorship won’t be able to erase. Here’s a list of women (past and present) who made piles of money baring it all:

1. Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monore Dress Photomarilyn-monroe photo

In 1954, during an era of extreme conservatism, Marilyn Monroe was photographed standing in a heating grate above the New York subway. In this famous black and white image, the lower half of Monroe’s dress gets blown skyward by a gust of wind and exposes her lower body. Monroe smiles gleefully, and cocks her legs wide, while the airflow works its magic.

The photo was deemed “racy” by several members of the public—mostly female—including her then boyfriend baseball icon Joe DiMaggio. Monroe absorbed criticism at every turn, but it didn’t prevent her from becoming an American icon and one of the purest examples of beauty in modern pop history. An eight feet statue depicting the famous scene of Marilyn now stands in the windy city of Chicago. Her white “subway” dress sold for more than $5.6 million in a Beverly Hills, California auction.

2. Pam Grier

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Throughout the 1970s, a mocha chocolate, finely-curved bombshell inspired more erections than Viagra and the adult film industry combined. Sexy, chic and stacked like a full deck of playing cards, Pam Grier graced the pages of several gentlemen’s magazines on her way to superstardom. Ranking among the most desirable women in black cinema history, Grier posed in Hugh Hefner’s Playboy and also stripped into her birthday suit for Hustler Magazine, among others.

In movies, she would often expose her bare breasts and participate in steamy love scenes with her male co-stars. Although she dumped college for a career in film and erotica, Grier eventually received an honorary doctorate from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES). It appears that selling sex also results in academic achievement. Who knew?

3. Janet Jackson

(To promote her fourth album,1993′s Janet,Jackson, then 27, appeared topless on the Sept. 16, 1993, cover of Rolling Stone. The pose hinted at the album’s racy lyrics).

Janet jackson Photo

Super Bowl XXXVIII, which was broadcast live on February 1, 2004 from Houston, Texas on the CBS television network in the United States, was noted for a controversial halftime show in which Janet Jackson‘s breast, adorned with a nipple shield, was exposed by Justin Timberlake for about half a second, in what was later referred to as a “wardrobe malfunction“.The incident, sometimes referred to as Nipplegate,was widely discussed. Along with the rest of the halftime show, it led to an immediate crackdown and widespread debate on perceived indecency in broadcasting.

Jackson’s music also reflects varying degrees of perceptible crudity. “Nasty” is the second single from her third studio album, Control(1986). Released in 1986, the single peaked at number three on Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, and remains one of Jackson’s signature songs. The line “My first name ain’t baby, it’s Janet – Miss Jackson if you’re nasty” is a well-known catchphrase and has frequently been used in pop culture in various forms.

4. Halle Berry

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Halle Berry’s questionable on-screen exploits can be described in two simple words, “Monster’s Ball” (2001). Nuff said.

5. Miss America Contestants

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Although women who participate in this competition aren’t rich or famous, they’re chosen as ambassadors to represent their respective hometowns. A portion of the pageant requires contestants to parade on stage wearing skimpy two-piece bikinis. Feminists, the fat ones anyway, might scoff at the very idea of exposing their bodies on a nationally televised platform. However, this event began in 1920 and continues to dominate ratings every year—obviously someone’s watching. Bragging rights, a college scholarship, and media attention (albeit temporary) goes to every winner crowned during this celebration of vanity.

nicki minaj (anaconda cover)

Minaj will be a piñata for her insult-wielding detractors until she decides to hang up her microphone (perhaps even after she retires). But what makes her story any different from the aforementioned list of celebrity sirens? Oh, that’s right: she’s got the best booty in the business.

Based in Southern California, EURweb editorial associate Cory A. Haywood is also a certified personal fitness trainer. Contact him via: [email protected] and/or visit his websites:www.coryhaywood.com and corythewriter.blogspot.com

 

 

Halle Sexed Billy Bob, Katy Perry Kisses Girls – Why Throw Stones At Bootylicious Nicki Minaj?

(From middle to right) Former Washington Wizards teammates JaVale McGee and John Wall pose with elated fan.

NBA star JaVale McGee Hosts 1st annual JugLife Celebrity Softball Game (Pics)

(From middle to right) Former Washington Wizards teammates JaVale McGee and John Wall pose with elated fan.

(From middle to right) Former Washington Wizards teammates JaVale McGee and John Wall pose with elated fan.

*NBA/Denver Nuggets star JaVale McGee‘s first Annual JugLife Celebrity Softball game featured industry notables John Wall, Omarion, Nick Young, Ray J and more to raise money and support efforts to bring clean drinking water to Uganda.

What is #Juglife? Well, it is simply improving your life and health by always carrying a gallon of water and hydrating throughout the day. McGee has promoted #Juglife for more than a year and he recently launched the brand, #JUGLIFE™ . It’s a pun–get it?

According to the website, #JUGLIFE™ was created for charitable purposes:

#JUGLIFE™  is a brand that promotes a healthy and productive lifestyle. #JUGLIFE’s motto is to drink a gallon of water a day. This lifestyle is important to #JUGLIFE™ because we understand the necessary intake of water to sustain life. Next to oxygen, water is the most essential element for life; the body cannot survive without water for several days.  Water makes up more than 2/3 of the human body weight. Therefore, we encourage everyone to take the #JUGLIFE™ Challenge by drinking a gallon of water a day.  By taking the #JUGLIFE™ Challenge, it will help every cell and organ function properly in the body, regulate one’s metabolism, and reduce the risk of disease.

#JUGLIFE™ is a company located in the USA and abundantly fortunate to have easy access to water. #JUGLIFE™ is a brand that cares about humanity and believes in contributing to help others who are in need. This company will promote health and wellness. By supporting #JUGLIFE™, you are also helping throughout the world!

Many notable athletes and entertainers gathered to participate in McGee’s celebrity softball game. The following list of stars dawned black and white JugLife baseball jerseys and helped put on a show for the fans in attendance:

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Los Angeles Lakers Guard Nick Young (photo gallery provided by EURweb associate Cory A. Haywood)

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R&B bad boy Ray J

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Rapper, song-writer and megaproducer Kevin McCall

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Former all-pro wideout Terrell Owens

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“Roll Bounce” actor Wesley Johnathan

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“That’s So Raven” actor Orlando Brown

Freda Payne

Freda Payne Discusses Fitness & New Album ‘Come Back to Me Love’ (Video)

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*There’s no formula for achieving longevity in show business. However, Freda Payne continues to be one the world’s most celebrated Jazz vocalists. Throughout her career, she has produced numerous hit singles and dozens of classic love ballads.

Saturday, August 9, the vivacious songstress performed at BB King’s Blues Club & Grill in New York City. The concert included songs from her new album Come Back to Me Love — a project that contains 14 tracks in total.

Although she strives to keep her music fresh and relatable, Payne’s old material still resonates with her fans. Her most popular song, “Band of Gold,” was recorded more than 40 years ago and still gets played on the radio (scroll down to watch her perform the song live).

Payne embarked on her music journey after landing in The Big Apple in 1963. She was only a teenager then; but she quickly caught the attention of a few rather accomplished musicians.

“When I was 17, I got to audition for Duke Ellington and he wanted to sign me up for ten years to sing with his band,” she explained proudly during an interview. “When I was 19, I got to sing with Quincy Jones’ band at the Apollo Theater.”

Payne continued, “I almost took a different route when I was mentored by Berry Gordy. He wrote three songs and he recorded them for me and they were all pop and R&B. I was thrilled to be working with him. But things didn’t pan out like we thought they would.”

The next year, her debut album, a jazz recording entitled ‘After the Lights Go Down Low and Much More,’ was released on ABC Paramount’s Impulse label. (This album was re-issued on CD in Japan in early 2002, and again in the United States in 2005.)

Three years later, she released her second album (another jazz effort) ‘How Do You Say I Don’t Love You Anymore,’ for MGM Records. She also made occasional guest appearances on different television shows including The Merv Griffin Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

Payne eventually added theatrical credits to her repertoire; she understudied Leslie Uggams for the Broadway show Hallelujah Baby in 1967, and appeared with the Equity Theatre in a production of Lost in the Stars.

freda payne (chesty)

Payne made a decent living while singing Jazz and performing on stage at local clubs. However, she wasn’t satisfied with the direction her career had taken. She desired commercial success. The singer eventually decided to rebrand her image and repackage her music.

“I wanted to get a hit,” she said laughing. “I felt I wasn’t getting anywhere singing in Jazz clubs. I was doing okay, but I needed more. I saw what was happening with the Supremes and Diana Ross and other artists. I said to myself ‘maybe I need to start singing R&B too.’”

In 1969, Payne’s old friends back home in Detroit, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Edward Holland, Jr., persuaded her to sign with their newly formed record label Invictus. During that same year, her first Invictus single, “Unhooked Generation” (a minor R&B hit), was released.

Shortly thereafter, Eddie Holland offered her a song entitled “Band of Gold”, which he along with Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier co-wrote (under the pen name Edythe Wayne) with Ronald Dunbar.

“It [the album] made a huge difference in my career,” explained Payne. “It gave me recognition and fame. It also changed what I could command financially. The song made me into a house hold name at the time. People would say, ‘Freda Payne—that’s the girl who recorded band of gold.”

Freda Payne

As her celebrity continued to blossom, Payne ventured into new social circles. She eventually attracted the attention of her childhood idol, Jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald.

“She was my hero,” said Payne. “I thought she was such an excellent singer and her scatting was beyond reproach. I got the opportunity to meet Ella in the early 70’s in New York. I never got a chance to perform with her.”

She added, “I was totally in awe. I heard her sing and the hair on my arms were standing up.”

Payne, who’s still vivacious, sexy and youthful at 71, says that one of the keys to her longevity has been maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.

“I’ve practiced yoga since 1973,” she explained. “I’m not an exercise fanatic but I do go to the gym. In my early twenties, I was into drinking carrot juice and wheat grass.

Payne continued, “I took dance classes in the 1960’s in New York. I remember going to a gym then. I had two roommates and sometimes I would be on the living room floor doing crunches and they would laugh at me. They’re not laughing now,” she added with a chuckle.

Payne’s new album, Come Back To Me Love (her first for Artistry Music) marks not only a return to the big band and strings-laden classics from her mid-`60s beginnings with Impulse!, but also marks a return to her hometown of Detroit.

“It is like a flashback to something really good happening for me at home in Detroit, my good luck charm,” says Payne. “It’s the springboard where I can replenish like a phoenix rising.”


michael lington face & sax1

Michael Lington: He’s a White Guy, But His Saxophone Doesn’t Know It

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*On stage, he shines like a freshly polished trumpet. In his recording studio, he creates smooth blends of intoxicating music.  Michael Lington isn’t your ordinary Jazz musician. For starters, he’s a white guy from Copenhagen, Denmark. More importantly, he’s a world-class saxophone player and he has carved his own place among the biggest and brightest instrumentalists in R&B.

On Aug. 9, Lington will take his talents to the Long Beach Jazz Festival. The two-day event attracts locals and tourists from all over the world. For Lington, it’s merely another stop on his journey to super stardom.

“I’m thrilled to have reached this point in my career,” he explained during an interview. “It’s a culmination of many hours perfecting my sound in the studio. I’m honored and humbled by the opportunity.”

Raised in a small town, Lington spent his adolescence preparing to add his own chapter to the annals of Jazz history. He might not have known it then, but the road he decided to travel was paved in sweat from predominately black performers and singers. That didn’t discourage him from picking up a clarinet and recreating versions of hit songs from some of his favorite Jazz artists, however.

As he grew older, his taste in music evolved. Lington was no longer satisfied with bland melodies—he craved flavor, kick and spice. After hearing a jazz record play over the radio, Lington fell in love with the sound of rattling high hats, crackling snare drums, and whistling brass horns. Inspired and hungry for a career in music, he chose to play the saxophone—an instrument that has helped him achieve ample success and international fame.

“I’ve always had a huge attraction to American music,” he said during his interview with EUR’s Lee Bailey. “I had this dream of living in a America and making a living playing music.

He continued, “When I was growing up, we had government owned radio stations. They were controlled by one governing body of people. One hour, the music would be classical; the next hour it would be instrumental; the next hour was soul music; and so on. I got hooked on the saxophone and the rest is history. It was like a ripple effect. I browsed through record stores and bought vinyl albums of my favorite musicians at the time. That’s how I got started.”

michael lington face & sax

 

In his formative years, Lington rubbed shoulders with various musicians that would tour Europe in search of broader audiences. These experiences helped develop his jones for Jazz music.

“My grandfather was a band leader, composer and musician,” he explained. He built long term relationships and friendships with the soul artists from the 40’s and 50’s. He even had a working relationship with Josephine baker. He introduced me to most of his peers. That’s what indirectly started that attraction for music.”

As his passion for music grew, Lington eventually decided to pursue a larger market than what he was accustomed to in his hometown. He packed his sax, said his goodbyes, and caught a flight to America—the reigning music capital of the world. The next few years were for paying dues. Lington played his music for any crowd willing to listen—big or small. He traversed every coast and combed through every nook and cranny of America’s Jazz scene. In 1996, Lington was finally offered his first recording contract. It was the breakthrough he had hoped for as a young boy.

“I was trying to find out what my voice would be and how far I could take it,” Lington explained. “Denmark is a small country; it’s hard to break out there. I knew that I could grow in America. It took work, but I got was I was looking for.”

Over the course of his career, Lignton has released 8 solo albums and 15 Radio and Records/Billboard radio singles. He has collaborated with Michael Bolton, Aaron Neville, Randy Crawford, Bobby Caldwell, Kenny Lattimore, Ryan Shaw, Joan Sebastian, Christian Castro and many others.

His most recent album, Soul Appeal, was released April 8 by Copenhagen Music. His CD reached number four on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Sales Chart. It entered the Billboard Heat Seeker chart at number 39 and was named Jazztrax Album of the Year in 2008. Lington’s duet with Aaron Neville, “That’s When You Save Me,” tied as Jazztrax Best Vocal Song of the Year. You & I, the first single from Heat, went to number two on the national R&R chart. He was nominated for International Instrumentalist of the Year 2009.

With seven successful albums to his credit, Lington has produced numerous hit singles, played for thousands of fans in concert all over the world—and for royalty—having played several times for the Danish royal family, including a command performance for the wedding reception of Crown Prince Frederik, the country’s future king.

“It took two years for me to write the album [Soul Appeal],” he explained. “I wrote more than 40 songs. I only picked 10 of the songs and recorded them live. I’ve gotten such an enormous reception—it’s validating and it feels great,” he added softly.

Lington continued, “I wanted to make songs that I could connect with. I think my fans have also been able to connect with my music. I’ve grown as an artist, and a performer and a writer. That’s my greatest achievement thus far.”

Get MORE on Michael Lington and hear his music at www.MichaelLington.com.

Naturally niggas

Naturally 7 on New Album and Why Women Are Banned from the All-Male Group

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*One afternoon, on a packed subway train in Paris, several passengers—probably local residents—crowded around seven men singing their own rendition of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.”

Cameras flashed. Hands clapped to the melody. And someone with a YouTube account recorded and uploaded the whole thing. Currently, the video has more than five million views worldwide.

They (Roger and Warren ThomasRod EldridgeNapoleon “Polo” Cummings, Dwight Stewart, Garfield Buckley, and Armand “Hops” Hutton) call themselves Naturally 7.

From New Edition to N’Sync, the music industry has seen its fair share of male and female singing groups. If you listen closely, there’s normally one talented member in each band—the others tend to be average or plain run of the mill. However, this doesn’t apply to Naturally 7—they perform as a single, harmony-filled unit.

“When we’re hitting the high notes, we don’t want people to think a female is doing it,” explained Roger, founding member and musical director of the group. “It’s an all male band. We want them to know that it’s just us guys hitting the notes,” he added with a laugh.

Able to mimic an entire orchestra, Naturally 7 entertains audiences across the world by using one of the human body’s most precious instruments. The original members came together in New York in 1999, and released their first album the very next year. Roger teamed up with his brother, Warren, and five other talented singers they had come to know over the years from singing around the city.

“When I was a kid, my brother [Warren] always wanted a drum set but our mother always told him no because it was just too noisy,” Roger recalled during an interview with EURweb’s Lee Bailey. “Warren learned to make drum sounds with his voice [beat box] to compensate for not having real drums to play.”

He continued, “I approached Warren and asked if he could become the band’s drummer, so to speak, to accompany Naturally 7 on up-tempo songs. The rest is history.”

Having been in and out of several traditional male groups, Roger developed an affinity for a cappella sounds and a unique ability to create distinct harmony arrangements. The other members found unique aspects of their own voices to use as instruments during performances.

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After winning several amateur singing competitions in New York and across the nation, Naturally 7 went on to release “Non Fiction” followed by five more albums, including 2006’s “Ready II Fly.” This project opened at number 14 on the Australian ARIA Charts and it peaked at number 67 in France. The group’s upcoming album project - “Hidden in Plain Sight” – which just happens to be their seventh release – took two years to make and will finally be released on September 23. You can pre-order at the group’s label, Hidden Beach Recordings.

“We create music from our hearts,” explained Stewart in his distinctive bear tone. “We handled this album with care. We wanted it to be something for the ages; something that everyone will talk about till the end of time. That was our mission.”

Although they have achieved international fame, the group feels as though many people still don’t know who they are. With that in mind, they named their newest album Hidden in Plain Sight—an ode to being under the radar.

“Our [newest] album has two meanings,” added the group’s musical director. “We have a spiritual theme in every one of our songs. But some people don’t actually see it. Hopefully they will this time.”

In 15 years, Naturally 7 has had to replace only three members (Jamal Reed, Marcus Davis, and Andre Edwards). Those who were added to the fold had to meet one specific requirement, among others.

“We’re seven black guys and that probably won’t change,” Eldridge predicted in a matter-of-fact tone. “If another member had to leave the group, we wouldn’t want to change the packaging. White guys really don’t fit our look.”

He added, “We’re such a tight knit unit and what we do is so intricate, it’s hard to replace someone. There’s a lot of preparation that goes into what we do. We’re all very passionate about our music; sometimes that causes confusion and disagreements. But we’re a family; we work through bad times and enjoy the good.”

Their phenomenal talent, coupled with a live show that many consider to be one of the best in the world, has Naturally 7 poised for a brilliant future. As 2014 unfolds, they will have toured Europe, Australia, Canada and the U.S.

“Our name comes from a very simple concept; there are seven of us in the group,” explained its leader. “Seven is also a complete number spiritually and musically; and naturally we’re using the instruments that were born with that are encased in our bodies. That’s what makes us special.”

For MORE on Hidden Beach recording artists Naturally 7,  and to pre-order “Hidden in Plain Sight,” click HERE.

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EUR Exclusive: Mario Talks Racism in Music, Celebrity Feuds, and ‘Hair’

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*With a sultry, soulful voice that rivals the likes of any R&B artist, past or present, male or female, Mario—the multitalented singer, songwriter, and actor—is back in the studio preparing his fifth solo project. Although a release date hasn’t been set, the album will feature some of the biggest and brightest producers music has to offer. Mario also plans to solicit the help of other vocalists—he wouldn’t divulge specific names—and his fans can expect new material in the fall. Until then, Mr. Barrett (yes, that’s his last name) has decided to broaden his horizons.

Joining a star-studded cast, he will be performing in the upcoming production “Hair”—a Tony Award winning musical based on the tumultuous Civil Rights Era (1960s). On August 1-3 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, Mario will portray a young African American revolutionist (Hud) with dreams of making a difference in his community.

“This play is about making a mockery of racism, religion and war,” he explained during an interview. “It’s about people being free and having a good time.”

Mario continued, “I play a young black man who is against war and racism. My character has experienced both of these things and singing is his way of coping with adversity while also drawing attention to the problems in his neighborhood. It’s a very powerful role, and I’m honored to have been chosen for it.”

In Hair, the characters act as representatives of their respective stomping grounds. Throughout the play they engage in thought-provoking dialogue about racism, warfare, classicism and other sensitive topics that push the proverbial needle. The multiracial cast includes a variety of actors and actresses from television and film, as well as less-known performers from the Broadway circuit. With respect to America’s heightened sensitivity toward race-related issues, the language in Hair might ruffle a few feathers. However, Mario promises that the show is written in good taste and won’t offend attendees.

“We’re not trying to upset people,” he explained. “We aren’t pointing the finger at anyone directly. The show promotes one common ideal: that under the sun, in the universe, were all one.”

In reference to the play’s title, Mario continued, “No matter what kind of hair you got, or what color you are, we should not be ashamed of who we are and what we represent. It’s called ‘Hair’ to bring it back to the oneness.”

Although he has sold more than 2 million albums worldwide, Mario remembers having to overcome discrimination on his way to the top. He explains racism as being an issue in entertainment that takes place behind closed doors.

“It’s definitely common in the industry; but not as much as people might think,” he explained plainly. “The older generation has more to say about racism. My generation—we’re all connected through social media and music. I try not to see color.”

“In entertainment, quality will always win no matter what color you are,” he went on to say. “Young black artist shouldn’t make fly by night material. Our music should always be at a high level so that we can compete with the best.”

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Although he’s dabbling in other areas of entertainment like theater, Mario has no intention of delaying his music career. He’s been traveling the world, fine-tuning his sound, and gaining new inspiration. Now, after several years away from the spotlight, Mario is finally ready to reconnect with his fans and the world of music.

“I’m more involved now,” he explained. “I’m writing more songs and I’m handpicking producers; and I’m also co-producing records. It’s more of a hands-on experience for me now, and I think that when people hear the music, they’ll see that.”

He added, “I want to make music that will give me a broader audience. There’s not enough up tempo in traditional R&B for it to sell now; it has to be merged with something. I’m still going to sing ballads; but I’m also going to incorporate elements of rock, pop, and house music. This is what the industry has programmed people to listen to. I’m simply embracing the evolution of R&B.”

Many of today’s most celebrated artists—Chris Brown, Trey Songs, Rihanna, Jay Z, Beyonce, etc—are also business moguls and entrepreneurs. Although he supports thinking out of the box, Mario vows to remember why he started performing in the first place.

“Some artists focus too much of their time on selling records and making money by any means,” he explained. “My music has to match who I am on the inside. I want people to feel my vibe without me having to open my mouth. I want to have a brand that people can relate to and understand.”

Mario continued, “People want to feel something when they listen to music. I’m constantly growing. I want to introduce people to something they haven’t seen or heard from me; but I want to do it an organic way.”

One of the ways young artists gain attention from the media is by engineering feuds with one another. In 2012, rapper Drake and troubled singer Chris Brown drummed up a media firestorm with their alleged brawl inside of a crowded night club. However, Mario says these stories are often fabricated, and in many cases, utterly untrue.

“Disagreements happen but when you allow the media to control the situation; then it can get out of hand,” he explained with a laugh. “To me, none of that stuff is real. I certainly play no part in it.”

Instead of participating in the Hollywood hullabaloo, Mario spends his off-time reaching out to his community in Baltimore, Md. His “Do Right Foundation” works with young people whose parents suffer from drug and alcohol addiction.

“I wanted to give back to those kids mentally and spiritually,” he explained. “I also wanted to educate them on how to prevent themselves and their families from falling into a life of drugs. The streets are crazy right now; a lot of kids are using drugs at an early age. I’m doing what I can to steer them in the right direction.”

In addition to recording another album, Mario plans to reconnect with his fans in a variety of different ways.

“I’m putting together a tour overseas right now,” the singer explained. “I’m also writing a book; it’s going to be about my life and things that I’ve experienced throughout my career.”

With more than 10 years of professional experience under his belt, Mario has one piece of advice for young artists trying to break into the music industry.

“Whatever you do in life, or want to do in life, don’t forget why you started in the first place,” he said softly. “Always remember why you’re doing what you do. That’s how you stay grounded; that’s how your music will stay real.”

Check out Mario’s classic Ne-Yo penned and produced jam, “Let Me Love You”: