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Mario (born Mario Dewar Barrett on August 27 1986) is an American R&B singer. He is best known for his hit singles "Just a Friend (2002)" and "Let Me Love You", which won him two Billboard awards, as well as for appearing in the films Step Up and Freedom Writers. His latest album, Go will be released on December 10 2007.
Mario was born in Baltimore, Maryland, US. He grew up in Pikesville, Randallstown, Gwynn Oak and other working-class neighborhoods in Baltimore County, Maryland. He grew up with his grandmother in different areas of Baltimore, Maryland, she also raised him while his single mother struggled with a drug problem.<ref name="Mario2" /> Mario wanted to become a singer at the age of four. His mother supported his dream and bought him a karaoke machine. By the time Mario was in high school, he started dealing drugs and was in a local gang. It was then when Maro's mother,Shawn, entered him in another talant contest to keep him off of the streets. Mario was in a singing group with comedienne Mo'Nique's oldest son while in school. He was always dedicated in having his career.He learned to play the piano and used that skill to create musical melodies and songs. He was discovered at age eleven and signed on by producer Troy Patterson, after singing "I'll Make Love to You" at a Coppin State College talent show.<ref name="Mario2" /> Mario attended Milford Mill Academy up until the tenth grade where he was inspired by his music teacher, during his early teen years, and was offered a record deal at the age of fourteen, signing with Clive Davis' J Records.<ref name="Mario2" /> His musical influences include Stevie Wonder, Fernando & Q-Bah, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole, Brian McKnight, Boyz II Men, and Joe. His first introduction to the music industry was the Dr. Dolittle 2 movie soundtrack in 2001. He sang a captivating performance of the Stevie Wonder classic You and I at Clive's Grammy party in 2002, and began recording an album.
Mario began recording his debut album Mario at age fifteen, a year before releasing it in July 2002. The lead single Just A Friend 2002, which was a cover of Biz Markie's hit, was an instant success, peaking at #4 on the charts. Follow up singles were Braid my Hair & C'mon. He was the opening act on the Scream Tour 3, which featured Bow Wow, Nick Cannon, B2K & Marques Houston. As of 2006, his debut album has sold over 700,000 copies.
After his debut album was released, Mario wanted to record an album that was more mature. He enlisted a number of well-known producers to help him, such as Scott Storch & Lil' Jon. He released his second album, Turning Point on December 7 2004. The album was more successful than his first, mainly because of the hit single "Let Me Love You". The single, described by reviewers as "melodic and sweetly lilting, reminiscent of Michael Jackson's vintage romantic ballads", was successul, peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for nine consecutive weeks. Other follow up singles include How Could You written by J. Valentine, with a cameo appearance in the video by rapper Cassidy, which also starred upcoming model and singer Cassie, and Boom featuring Juvenile. To date, Turning Point has sold over 1.7 million copies.
In February 2006, Mario filed a lawsuit against his former manager, Troy Patterson, alleging that Patterson had paid him $50,000 for the sale of more than 3 million records. Mario has homes in Baltimore, Atlanta and Los Angeles.
Mario's third album Go is scheduled to be released on December 10, 2007 and includes collaborations with Jermaine Dupri, Ne-Yo, Janice Robinson, Eric West, Scott Storch, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Timbaland, Bryan Michael Cox, Nelly, Alicia Keys, The Neptunes, Jim Jonsin, Akon, Dre & Vidal, Warren Campbell, Sean Garrett, Trey Songz and Mr. Collipark. Mario, who has described the album as "sex... more personal... more passionate", had more creative control on Go than on his previous two albums. The first single to be lifted from the album was "How Do I Breathe". The second single that is now in rotation is "Crying Out for Me".
|2002||"Just a Friend 2002"||4||3||18||—||15||—||—||Mario|
|"Braid My Hair (song)"||74||18||—||—||—||—||—|
|2004||"Let Me Love You"||1||1||2||3||1||1||2||Turning Point|
|2005||"How Could You (song)"||52||13||—||43||—||—||—|
|"Here I Go Again"||—||—||11||15||36||27||50|
|"Boom" (featuring Juvenile)||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2007||"How Do I Breathe (song)"||46||18||21||33||—||42||—||Go|
|"Crying Out for Me (song)"||106||28|
|"Kryptonite (song) (featuring Rich Boy/Eve)|
Mario starred along side Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan in Step Up, a dance-themed film released on August 11 2006. For his next film, Freedom Writers he acted opposite Academy Awards-Winner Hilary Swank and Patrick Dempsey of Grey's Anatomy. The film was a drama about inner-city school kids. It was released on January 5, 2007. Mario did not take acting classes before undertaking the role.
Mario has stated that he would like to own his own film production company and become a director.
Mario has a show which began airing on MTV on October 21, 2007 titled "I Won't Love You To Death" which is based on the troubles he has with his mother's 23 year heroin addicition.