“The album was written in 2019 knowing that 2020 was going to be a very trying year,” Mraz says over the phone, ahead of his Dallas tour stop on August 1. “Because it was an election year, it was going to bring up a lot of stuff. Also the climate is continuing to change, we’re all still continuing to consume, and 2020 brought some major inequalities and injustices to the forefront, which helped us all shift our perspective.”
One could speculate that Mraz envisioned Look For The Good as … "the remedy." (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.) He couldn’t have possibly known the extent to which we would all be tested in 2020, but the “I’m Yours” singer always intended to use his newest creation, as the title suggests, for good. All of his earnings from the album will be donated to various nonprofit organizations, many of which are focused on advancing Black lives. He’s already given his $250,000 royalty advance to six causes: Black Lives Matter, San Diego Young Artists Music Academy, RISE San Diego, Grassroots Law Project, Center on Policy Initiatives and Equal Justice Initiative.
“I just want to use my super powers for good,” Mraz says. “It was obvious to me that money and energy needed to be directed to those marches, to those courtrooms, to job creation … the list goes on and on.”
Since Mraz already parted with his entire advance and the 2021 numbers haven’t yet been released, he noted that there’s a good chance the album hasn’t caught up to that quarter-of-a-million-dollar sum in revenue. However, the charitable donations will be given in perpetuity.
“As income comes in for Look for the Good, we will continue to donate to organizations who are fighting the good fight to advance equality,” Mraz says.
He also hopes that by shining a light on these issues and putting his money where his mouth is, he might inspire other artists to do the same, resulting in an even greater impact.
“I just like to send the spotlight to others; it doesn’t need to always be on me,” Mraz says. “I like music, I like listening to music. I don’t necessarily like to be seen for the music. When it’s time to get a little press around music, I’d rather that press include Black Lives Matter or San Diego Young Artists Music Academy or Grass Roots Law Project.”
Mraz was eager to perform his newest creation to living, breathing, cheering audiences around the country. And then, well, we all know what happened. When the world stopped, Mraz’s 2020 Look For The Good tour, like everything else, came to a screeching halt.
“The greatest challenge was patience,” Mraz says. “We’re part of a very lucky bunch that get to invent sounds, create music, put on a circus of a show and travel that show from town to town. There’s no other job quite like it.”
Now Mraz and his band can get back to doing what they love most, and kick off their tour on July 30 in Austin.
“We put on a couple of parking lot shows back in April, and you could sense that we’re all ready to reconnect,” he says. “There’s only so many Zoom meetings and digital cubicles that we can fit into, so it’ll be nice to finally breathe the same air and dance to the same beat.”
Of course, he had plenty of work to quash the tedium of quarantine. In addition to holding a successful career as a two-time Grammy Award winner and Songwriters Hall of Fame honoree, Mraz is also a farmer. Yes, like a real farmer. His crops — at his estate, Mraz Family Farms in Oceanside, California — include avocados, passion fruit and coffee beans.
“I just want to use my super powers for good ... It was obvious to me that money and energy needed to be directed to those marches, to those courtrooms, to job creation … the list goes on and on.”– Jason Mraz
“I just actually spent my weekend shoveling steer manure compost around my fruit trees and still have a long way to go,” he says. “But there was never a shortage of chores. I moved out to the country after my first album gave me both the down payment to buy a little house with a little piece of land as well as the inspiration to move out of the city, go somewhere where you can make a lot of noise, focus on your art, and listen to nature in the meantime. It’s a trip.”
Mraz's farm supplies avocados to Chipotle. So in addition to giving us some of the catchiest earworms of the early aughts, you might also have Mr. Mraz to thank for that side of guac.
But let’s get back to those earworms. Mraz will hit the road for his long-awaited tour later this week, sharing the stage with a 13-piece reggae band and performing tracks from the new album as well as reggae-inspired versions of some of his greatest hits. The group kicks things off in the Lone Star state with shows in Austin, Houston, and in Dallas, on August 1, at the Toyota Music Factory.
Any “I’m Yours” super-fans will be psyched to hear a re-imagined version, which appears on the deluxe edition of Look For The Good, and presumably, on the set list for the live shows.
“It is ‘I’m Yours’ like you’ve never heard before,” Mraz says, “Anyone who’s loved the song will love it even more. It’s a smoooooth jam, and that’s all I can say.”