Coming from gospel music’s reigning family, it’s safe to say that Mario Winans innate passion for music isn’t by chance. Being the musical genius that he is– not only has Mario found success having worked with everyone in the music industry from rockers Led Zeppelin to R&B diva Beyonce, but he also has a thriving career as a solo artist. Check out Str8NYC.com’s exclusive interview with multi-platinum Grammy Award winning producer/singer —where he discusses various new projects including a new album, his multi-media company, gospel music, Diddy & Bad Boy Records, Mark Curry’s “Dancing With The Devil” and why some things are just better left unsaid.
Str8NYC: You haven’t been really missing in action; rather you’ve just been working in the background. What’s new with you? Any new projects?
Mario Winans: Let me just give y’all a little bit of history of some of the people that I’ve worked with. I’ve produced for Janet Jackson, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Mary [Mary J. Blige], Diddy and the whole Bad Boy roster. I’ve [also] worked with Led Zeppelin [and] David Bowie just to name a few. I’ve sold a hundred million [records] as a producer. The artist thing is kind of something that I did on the side and it blew which was really a blessing. As far as my album ["Love’s Highway"], that’s in the works and it will be coming out probably this summer. It’s really big! I got a lot great features on there. [There’s] a lot of great music on there. As far as production right now, I just produced a new Trina record with Diddy and Keri Hilson [“Million Dollar Girl”], I have the “Angels” song out with Diddy and the remix which is getting ready to come out with Rick Ross. I’m [also] in the studio with Musiq Soulchild, Drake– just doing the production thing. [I’m] also just developing a lot of my own new artists [which is] why we’re doing this big 12 city talent showcase [Dream Big Artist Showcase], getting ready to comb these cities and get some new artists.
Str8NYC: Coming from a gospel background, the music that you produce might be categorized as “worldly”. How does your family view the music you make with certain artists like Rick Ross, Trina etc..? How do they feel about that?
Mario Winans: Well, see my family also understands that God judges our heart; you know what I’m saying? I’m still a God-fearing person. The way I live my life and who I produce with is two different things. So you know my family never really had an issue with that ‘cause it’s not like I’m out sinning when I’m producing this music. You know music is a beautiful thing. And the definition of gospel is “good news”. So a lot of the categories are man made categories [and] I don’t really get into it that much. But, ultimately my family didn’t have an issue with it.
Str8NYC: Do you have any Gospel projects in the works?
Mario Winans: Absolutely! I have a project called “My Gift to You” which is a five volume album that’s coming out. And some of the artists from the first volume are my mom[Vickie Winans], my aunt CeCe Winans, Yolanda Adams, Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin, myself and my younger brother just to name a few.
Str8NYC: When was your music group, Rio World Music launched? What is its mission/goal?
Mario Winans: It’s really not a record label. A record label is within the company. It’s a multi-media acquisition company, a company who invests in other smaller companies. So our company is going to kind of be like a housing company of other companies that we like and other companies that we see are growing and other companies that we can adapt and adjust to. This company was set up last year with my man Lex and my PR person Wendy; those are the two that really head this company, Dream Big/Hustle Hard. From this point on, everything that I do I want to be able to contain most of it in-house. The agents in-house, management in-house, all the way down to the nutritionist, the chefs, security– everything is going to be in-house with this company. So once you come aboard with this company, you’re pretty much just landing in everything that you need. It will be very much of a family oriented situation. One thing I’ve learned is the world likes to see togetherness. The world likes to see a team and a squad of people that have a lot of different go-to people, a lot of different areas ‘cause that’s just what the world likes to see. So that’s what we’re focusing on. It’s going to be great! And I’m very, very excited about this year and what the next five years is going to bring.
Str8NYC: How do you feel about the short lived success of other Bad Boy artists [i.e. Loon, Mase etc…]? Do you still keep in touch with any of them?
Mario Winans: Yeah, of course! I mean that’s family. I don’t even really look at it like it’s short-lived. Mase has done things that some other artists haven’t done. It’s not a whole lot of rappers that came out and sold over 3 million records on their debut album. It’s impacting the things that he’s achieved; you know what I’m saying? Whether he made another record or not I think that’s something to be commended. And there are a lot of people who are in the game right now with rap albums that people look up to who haven’t achieved what Mase has achieved in that little short time. So I don’t really look at the timing sense of it. I just look at the blessing that they had when they had it ’cause you know some things are for season.
Str8NYC: It seems like a few people are bitter. Are you familiar with Mark Curry’s book “Dancing With the Devil”? How do you feel about it?
Mario Winans: Ughh…that’s nonsense! That’s nonsense! I don’t agree with that book at all. Before you call someone the devil, you really need to know who the devil is and then that way you would know that you ain’t calling a human that, you know what I’m saying? But people have their situations. And people have their personal hang-ups and personal setbacks about maybe what they had going on with Puff. But, my whole thing is discuss that with that man. Some things just ain’t the worlds business, you know? So I never agreed with that book period. And I really don’t have anything to say about that.
Mario Winans x Dream Big/Hustle Hard want to make one lucky artist’ dream come true by kicking off “The Dream Big Artist Showcase Tour”! This highly anticipated tour will hit 12 cities including Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, NYC, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Dallas and L.A. Semi-finalists from each city will score $250 in services from Dream Big/Hustle Hard and will also get a chance to compete for the ultimate grand prize–a production deal with multi-platinum Grammy award-winning producers Mario Winans and the Fliptones! So if you’re looking to make your dreams come true, hurry and register today at http://www.dreambigshowcase.com./