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Mario Dewar Barrett (born August 27, 1986), professionally known as Mario, is an American Grammy-nominated R&B and pop singer, actor, model, dancer and philanthropist. He is best known for his hit singles "Just a Friend 2002" (2002) and "Let Me Love You" (2004), which won him two Billboard awards, as well as for appearing in the films Step Up and Freedom Writers. He has released four studio albums: Mario in 2002, Turning Point in 2004, Go! in 2007, and D.N.A. in 2009.

Early life

Mario was born in Baltimore, Marylandmarker, and grew up in Pikesvillemarker, Randallstownmarker, Gwynn Oak and other working-class neighborhoods in Baltimore County, Maryland. He grew up with his grandmother, who raised him while his single mother struggled with a drug addiction. Mario said at the age of four that he wanted to become a singer. His mother supported his dream and bought him a karaoke machine. Mario joined a musical group in high school with the oldest son of comedienne Mo'nique and best friend Jaye Brebnor. He was always dedicated to having a musical career. He learned to play the piano and used that skill as the basis for his melodies and songs. He was discovered at age eleven and signed by producer Troy Patterson , after singing "I'll Make Love to You" at a Coppin State Collegemarker talent show. Mario attended Milford Mill High 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. His musical influences include Stevie Wonder, Fernando, Q-Bah, Claire and Shay all from FunX radio Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole, Brian McKnight, Boyz II Men, Usher, 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.

Music career

Mario (2002-2003)

Mario began recording his debut album Mario. 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 Lil' Zane, Bow Wow, Nick Cannon, B2K & Marques Houston. As of 2006, his debut album has sold over 700,000 copies. During this period, he became a draw in the teen market.

Turning Point (2004-2006)

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 successful, peaking at the number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for nine consecutive weeks. The single is written by Ne-Yo. Other follow up singles include "How Could You" co-written by J. Valentine, with a cameo appearance in the video by rapper Cassidy; "Here I Go Again" (whose video starred model/singer Cassie) and "Boom" featuring Juvenile. To date, Turning Point has sold platinum and the lead single double-platinum.

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's new manager is J. Erving and he was chosen by Mario.

Go! (2007-2008)

Mario's third album Go! is dedicated to his mom Shawntia Hardaway and was released in South Africa under Gallo Records on October 9, 2007, in the U.S. on December 11, 2007. The album includes collaborations with Jermaine Dupri, Ne-Yo, Janice Robinson, Eric West, Lionell Davis, Scott Storch, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Timbaland, Bryan-Michael Cox, The Neptunes, Jim Jonsin, Akon, Dre & Vidal, Warryn "Baby Dubb" Campbell, Sean Garrett 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" which was released in May. The second single was "Crying out for Me" after a poll on his website. The single was later certificated Gold by the RIAA. On December 13, 2007, Mario was on "106 & Park" where he stated that the third single off the album will be "Music For Love". The entire album was made available for the public to listen to on his Myspace page before its release. He also has a new song that came out on December 11, "Do Right". Go! has sold 331,540 copies in the U.S.

In an interview with DJ "Z", Mario stated that problems with the record label caused the album launch to be pushed back 6–8 months.

D.N.A. (2009-Present)

Before the release of his third album Go!, Mario confirmed in an interview with that he was working on a new album "by the time school starts back up, like after next summer” “But there's really even more than that, 'cause I'm gonna start recording, like, [at] the end of January". The album is involving a wide range of producers and songwriters such as Darkchild, Babyface, Polow da Don, RedOne, CJ of Charlio Productions, Malay, Jazze Pha, Stargate, KP, Tricky Stewart and The-Dream as confirmed by Mario. Mario said that he would like to work with no more than 4 producers for this album. Mario has described this album as World music, an old school R&B influenced with a modern dance pop sound. The album is being described as his “most personal, colossal album of his career.”

The album's lead single "Break Up" was released on April 28, 2009. The song features Sean "The Pen" Garrett and Gucci Mane. In the US, the song, have peaked at number 2 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Chart and 15 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Mario's most successful single in five years. The single has been recently certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for a shipment of over 500,000 units as a ringtone. "Thinkin' About You", was released as the second single.

Other ventures

Acting career

Mario starred alongside 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 Award-Winner Hilary Swank and Patrick Dempsey of Grey's Anatomy. 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 entitled "Inside Paris Productions" and become a director.


Knightwritaz is a production team of which Mario is a part. The production team includes Mario, Sterling Simms, Warren "Oak" Felder and Marsha of Floetry. Aside from producing songs for Mario's album Go!, the team has written and produced songs for Jennifer Lopez, Chris Brown, Usher and Raven-Symoné. Mario claims to be more of the songwriter in the team. In an interview with Rap-Up he senteced that he was no longer part of the Knightwritaz.

Do Right Foundation

Mario's Do Right Foundation was established to educate and inspire kids who suffer from drugs addiction from their parents.


On 10th of January 2009, Mario ventured to be the face of Pelle Pelle's European Spring/Summer 2009 campaign with various press shots for the campaign running throughout the next few months.


On 5th of March 2009, Mario said on Twitter that he had made an ABC network testing for a new Pilot. As result, he made an announcement to "The Electric Company" on PBS, with the "Soft G".

Soul Truth Entertainment

In a interview with Rap-Up, Mario said that "Soul Truth Entertainment" was his new entertainment company. The company is used to find new artists which can build a creative relationship with and create a long-term career with.


Mario is the new face of PETA in the campaign against killing animals entitled "Ink, Not Mink". He tells: "Be comfortable in your own skin, and let animals keep theirs".

Personal life

MTV aired a special on October 21, "I Won't Love You to Death: The Story of Mario and His Mom," which dealt with his mother's heroin addiction. The documentary is about how the singer strives for help to stop his mother's addiction. While doing this, he seeks help from family and friends. Mario wrote a letter to his mother stating how appreciative he is and begs her to stop her addiction. At the end of the letter he says, "I love you, but I won't love you to death". The documentary, produced by Gigantic! Productions, won a 2008 Prism Award for its accurate portrayal of drug abuse.

Mario has also written a song titled Do Right that is dedicated to his mother. This song explains his mother's addiction and how it affected his childhood, and highlights how much he looks up to her. The song is featured on his third album Go.

Mario has homes in Baltimoremarker, Atlantamarker and Los Angelesmarker. Mario also has a few tattoos:one on his upper back that says "SoulTruth" and a music note on his right hand.

Dancing with the Stars performances

While on season 6 of Dancing with the Stars, Mario became the youngest contestant to be on the show, and performed the following dances with his professional partner, Karina Smirnoff
Week # Dance/Song Judges' score Result
Inaba Goodman Tonioli
1 Cha-cha-cha/ "Request Line" 8 8 8 N/A
2 Quickstep/ "Valerie" 9 8 9 Safe
3 Tango/ "Roxanne" 7 6 8 Bottom Two
4 Paso Doble/ "Higher Ground" 8 7 9 Safe
5 Samba/ "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" 9 9 9 Safe
6 Rumba/ "Let's Get It On" 9 9 10 Bottom Two
7 Foxtrot/ "I'm Your Man"

Mambo/ "Mambo A La Sandoval"



8 Viennese Waltz/ "If I Ain't Got You"

Jive/ "Little Bitty Pretty One"








Year Title Role Notes
2006 Step Up Miles Darby lead role
2007 Freedom Writers Andre Bryant lead role
2009 Destination Fame Wizzy lead role

Notable TV appearances


External links

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