Jason Mraz’s inclusive concert

Jason Mraz

Jason Mraz is proud of his adopted hometown of San Diego and he’s determined to show residents what they have. 

He’ll present “Shine,” a musical adventure through his catalog, Saturday, February 15, and Sunday, February 16, at the Spreckels Theatre.

“Shine” centers around the local community and celebrates San Diego. The show follows Mraz and friends as they wake up and experience a full day in their Southern California neighborhood. They play at a local park, explore a farmer’s market, dance and fall asleep under the stars.  

The concert will feature performances by local arts education nonprofit groups, including Banding Together, who brings music opportunities to individuals with special needs; Malashock Dance, whose education program is designed to bring access to dance for under-served students, low-income families, individuals with disabilities, and promising pre-professional dancers who may face financial barriers; and transcenDANCE, who guides young people in underserved San Diego County communities to transcend barriers, expand their ambitions, and create positive change for themselves, their families and community, through dance and performance.  

Grants from the Jason Mraz Foundation have empowered and inspired these groups to interpret some of Mraz’s songs through movement, singing and visual arts. The Jason Mraz Foundation has donated more than $1 million to various nonprofits supporting inclusive arts education and the advancement of equality.

“We like to think the concerts are inspiring, fun and authentic,” Mraz says. “We’re going to be bringing a showcase of San Diego’s best performers. I’m talking the next generation of performers: Today’s youth, tomorrow’s entertainers.”

Mraz partnered with seven arts education programs in San Diego to showcase what they do, he says. 

“We want San Diego to see what’s right here and what kinds of programs exist,” Mraz says. “We have dance programs. We have vocalists, instrumentalists, a variety of the performing arts will be showcased through this theatrical rock concert.”

The presentations are important to Mraz because he grew up through arts education programs. His goal is to bring awareness to groups like the ones that helped him. 

“I want young kids to have a great opportunity,” says Mraz, who lives in the San Diego area at Mraz Family Farms.

“That gets to happen thanks to this show. The young people have a gig to really show up for and live into. The show itself is the culmination of the end of the season showcase. That’s fun, too.”

Malashock Dance was excited and inspired from day one, according to Molly Puryear, the group’s executive director.

Since 1988, Malashock Dance has created and performed more than 100 original dance works, produced annual performances and workshops and collaborated with other renown artists and cultural organizations to critical acclaim. Founded by John Malashock following his extensive career in dance and theater, the company performs in various San Diego venues and events and has toured nationally and internationally. 

“The Jason Mraz Foundation is recognizing the work that is being done in this community and allowing us to expand on it,” Puryear says. 

“It’s really a huge breakthrough opportunity for all of the mixed-ability students we work with. We would not otherwise be able to produce a show of this caliber. Having the resources and support of the Jason Mraz Foundation has been truly a joy from beginning to end.”

Puryear says Mraz’s personal support has been appreciated. 

“We’re thrilled with how involved Jason has been personally,” she says. “There’s a lot of heart behind this and a true understanding.

“It’s a transformational experience for anyone who’s ever been in the spotlight and jumped on the stage. It’s life changing and we truly believe in what that can do for a family.”

Mraz was moved as he heard Puryear talk. 

“That’s what this is all about,” he says. “I always bring up the word ‘inspire.’ By hearing Molly’s testimony, this is what we’re doing to breathe life into programs and opportunities—inspire, inspire, inspire. 

“I’m inspired. We’re all breathing life into this together. We want our time here on earth to be positive and change life for good.”

Mraz has new music on the docket for 2020. He’s unsure if the set will include some of those tracks. 

“It’s still up for debate,” Mraz says. “We have new material and a very full show based on the songs collected from the catalog. 

“The new songs reflect the time and breathe life into issues that need addressing and celebrating. There will be more information released on this next season or so, maybe March or April.

“Right now, for me, ‘Shine’ is almost like a loophole that I found that allows me to continue to play at the level the young people play at. It’s freeing, especially for first-time people on stage. To be involved in a show like this and to provide the music for this show, it allows me to stay right there in that seat I got to stand in in eighth grade. That’s what the sensation of what this whole journey has been about.”

Jason Mraz: “Shine,” Spreckels Theatre, 121 Broadway, Gaslamp District, 619.235.9500, spreckels.net7 p.m. Saturday, February 15, and 3 p.m. Sunday, February 16, sold out.

“Shine” organizations

Wheelchair Dancer Organization

Angelo, 10, and Gracie. 8, Sanchez 

wheelchairdancers.org

Wheelchair Dancers Organization (WDO) changes lives through dance.

A Reason to Survive (A.R.T.S.)

areasontosurvive.org

Its mission is to ignite the power of creativity in youth, inspiring them to overcome obstacles and providing them with the skills needed to become compassionate catalysts for positive change in themselves, their communities and the world.

Banding Together

bandingtogethersd.org

Founded in 2009, Banding Together brings music opportunities to individuals with special needs in the community.

Malashock Dance Company

malashockdance.org/danceability

Promoting dance as an avenue for personal expression through participation, education, and artistic collaboration.

Dance with this ABILITY Program: The class for students with intellectual differences is back in action at The Malashock Dance School. Join the group for a weekly class focusing on movement fundamentals, spacial and physical awareness, and creative problem-solving.

San Diego Queer Youth Chorus

sdpride.org/sdqyc

San Diego Queer Youth Chorus encourages and fosters artistic expression, personal development, and leadership in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning intersex and allied youth and presents musical performances that provide an opportunity and space for young people, however they identify, to say “this is a place where I am accepted for who I am and everything that I bring.”

transcenDANCE Youth Arts Project

tdarts.org

transcenDANCE is a nationally recognized creative youth development organization that works with teens in underserved San Diego communities. Its programs change the trajectory of students’ lives by building resilience, confidence, and creativity and by instilling life-changing skills such as leadership, collaboration and community engagement.

Guest artists

Pan 4 Students/Steel Drums; Chloe Mickley, Kristhaly Carvajal, Michael Garcia and Ty Bogikes, Billy Galewood, Evan Ruggiero, Chris Caswell and Raining Jane.