Monday, 22 August 2011
TICKET TO FAME: In a sea of challenges, Mario Evon sails on the power of a dream
Whether he’s spilling details about his folks, or his days as a tenor with the University Singers, or landing internships via Boston's Berklee College of Music, or his current run as a highly favoured contestant on the Amateurs’ Night series at the world-famous Apollo Theatre in New York, Mario Evon buzzes with a quietly infectious and garrulous energy. “New York is a free-spirited city, and that’s one of the benefits I enjoy,” marvels the singer, seated poolside at New Kingston’s Wyndham Hotel on a postcard-perfect afternoon, as he spends a few days at home before flying out again. On the subject of New York, it’s where Evon has taken up a year-long residence to pursue a break into the mainstream of the music industry. “I love the competitiveness,” he says. “If you can cut through all the noise, you might just find yourself on the right path.”
With time and experience, Evon has learnt a thing or two about tuning out the noise. Especially the naysayers who find it difficult to accept that Evon, a licensed medical doctor, turned down the opportunity to practise full-time in favour of chasing a dream of becoming a bonafide recording star. The less-than-encouraging comments of the detractors, the singer admits, can be at times off-putting. “Oftentimes, it’s people from the Caribbean who don’t take my music ambitions seriously, but I try not to let that upset me,” he confesses, emphasizing that he does in fact occasionally put his medical training to use whenever he is back home. His license prohibits him from legitimately practising in the States.
When pressed, Evon fesses up that although he's always found joy in medicine, he's more feverishly in love with musical expression. It is quite natural that folks would marvel at his decision to give all of that up to struggle as an artist. But, if you ask me, it’s a courageous move, admirable even. He has, after all, found his true calling: music, an artistic passion that seems to reinforce his remarkable zest for life.
As he gears up for his Round 3 (August 31) appearance on the Apollo stage (he already has the first two rounds under his belt) to render Bob and Lauryn’s crowd-pleasing “Turn Your Lights Down Low,” he is keeping his fingers crossed and counting on his mix of vibrant vocals and boy-next-door appeal to work its magic again. The fourth round (also the grand finale) is set for October 26. How does he feel about his chances of emerging the big winner of the US$10,000 prize? “I’m not a cocky youth,” says the singer, who jogs and parties moderately, “but I think I have a good chance.”
Looking ahead to the competition and an album in the planning phase, among other items on his to-do list, Evon is surging towards his pot-of-gold future with the same characteristic optimism that landed him in the Big Apple in the first place. “I want to do reggae-soul. But I don’t want the sameness; I want to be outside the box,” he tells me. “My main goal right now is networking, utilizing some of my Berklee connections and building a fanbase.”