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Interview with Jason Mraz

Aired June 18, 2010 - 16:49:00   ET




MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With his unique style and soulful voice, Jason Mraz has captured the attention of music lovers around the world.


FOSTER: His song, "I'm Yours" reached platinum status. It was followed by hits such as "Make It Mine" and "Lucky."


FOSTER: The Grammy winner is also an environmentalist and famous for living on a solar-powered avocado farm.


FOSTER: But Mraz has now turned his attention to the threats of child slavery. He recently returned from a trip to Ghana, where he says he helped rescue a group of child slave laborers, along with the non-profit group, Free the Slaves. Mraz spent five days traveling with a former child slave, visiting rescue shelters.


FOSTER: Fame without a price -- Jason Mraz is your Connector of the Day.


FOSTER: And recently I caught up with your Connector of the Day, Jason Mraz.

And I began by asking him about his experiences in Ghana.


JASON MRAZ, MUSICIAN: Thanks a phenomenal organization called Free the Slaves in the United States. They're partnered with Anti-Slavery International in the U.K. And they're the ones that invited me to go out on this rescue mission on the lake and really see what's going on on the ground in the anti-slavery movement.

When I went out on the boat, you know, my first thought was, what am I doing here, I'm a million miles from home, you know, is this really the place for me?

And I immediately found that the strength of James Kofi Annan, who was running this boat, that the strength of his became the strength of mine. And that this was really a mission for equality, that -- that we're out here in the water to make sure that everyone is being treated fairly.

We -- we started to just go up to different boats and talk to the kids and find out what they're up to. And, you know, the -- the conversation isn't about slavery. The conversation is about fishing and lifestyle and, you know, really just building trust and -- and rela -- and good relations with -- with a fishing community there, because it's -- an after, we'd spend some time talking about the -- the unique and primitive way about the fishing, we'd then talk about the conditions and are you kids going to school and how's your health and -- and whatnot, until you kind of get to - - get to find out what's really going on behind the scenes.

You know, slavery, you know, of course, being illegal -- and it has been for hundreds of years -- it's just hidden from our view, you know. So it's really hard to -- to know whether this is that child's father or if these kids are really going to school. So it's really a matter of being on the lake for a good amount of time to find out whether or not these kids are being well treated.

FOSTER: What about you -- as Diana Cheryl asks: "It must have been difficult to work in Ghana and then return to the West, where no one's talking about it."

Was that the case for you?

MRAZ: Yes, you know, the thing that's going to prevent slavery and, really, I think, bring about equality for all human beings is awareness and resources. And so being from the West, when I come home and no one's talking about this thing -- in fact, most people in the West don't even believe that something like slavery would still exist, when, in fact, there's millions -- 27 million is the estimated number right now of people on this earth who are enslaved, who -- who cannot leave their jobs, who cannot -- who -- and aren't -- aren't getting paid for it and they're under the threat -- they're under threat or violence.

FOSTER: This is a big part of your career now, of course. You're famous for music. And Jurgen asks: "How do you manage your music career with your personal life?" -- and I guess with this on top of it now?

MRAZ: Well, I guess my music career is my personal life. You know, I've always been a writer who wants to write about my experiences. And so this experience being added to that, I -- I want to live extraordinary experiences. And when I give advice to people, I want it to be sage advice. You know, I think our storytellers -- our songwriters should be great storytellers and they should be mountain climbers and explorers, because music is something that can cross all different borders. And I've seen that in the last couple of years. And so I find it's important for me to have these extraordinary experiences so that it can filter down into my music and all of it (INAUDIBLE). So that it's just -- that it's just a powerful life that I get to -- that I choose, that I choose to live.

FOSTER: And about your performances: "Do you get scared when you get on stage," Angie Live asks.

MRAZ: Do I get scared when I get on stage?


MRAZ: No, I get -- I get excited. Yes, I mean, I guess in the first five minutes, there's an excitement, because you're introducing yourself to a new community. But you get to -- to kind of take charge of -- of the emotions of anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 people. So it's -- it's a good -- it's a good thing. There's on room for nervousness, otherwise the audience will eat you alive.

FOSTER: Yes, you have to just get on with it, I guess, don't you, huh?

MRAZ: Yes.

FOSTER: Paulina (ph) asks: "When you were little, did you ever think you were going to end up so successful and do these incredible charitable works, as well?"

MRAZ: I didn't. You know, when I was little, I knew I always wanted to sing. And I -- I've actually been taking note of that a lot in the last couple of months, how the first part of my career was really just self- driven, like how can I pull this off, how can I make this a career for myself?

And then once -- once the door opened up and I had a real world community to share it with, I then realized how much of a responsibility I then had and -- and wanted to shift my -- my new life work to that of contribution. It's like, OK, I've done what I needed to do for myself, now it's time to really like share it with others, so that they can feel their own greatness, as well.

FOSTER: OK. I did say that there are all sorts of questions coming in. And Emily is referring to your avocado farm and she wants a good avocado recipe.

MRAZ: Well, put avocado in just about any smoothie I make. It always makes it nice and thick. But the best thing -- and I recommend it to everyone -- is just add a little bit of agave and raw cacao and instantly you've got chocomole -- some raw chocolate mousse made of avocados.


FOSTER: Jason Mraz speaking to me earlier.

Now, calling all Gleeks -- that's right -- if you're a fan of the successful TV series, "Glee," I expect you're going to love us, for over the next, our Connector of the Day cracking lineup includes Matthew Morrison. He is AKA Mr. Schuester, Mr. Schue, the inspiring teacher behind the high school musical drama popularly known as "Glee," of course. The star from the massively popular show will be answering your questions next week.

Remember, you have the power to ask the questions in this interview.

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