“Creating a rhythmic foundation for other people to play on.”
A man of few words, but very dynamic and compelling when spoken, is one way to describe Mario’s personality and playing. His approach to music, is like a conversation, an exchange of ideas. Mario believes (as do all the great musicians he looks up to), that music is a universal language, that musicians speak and are able to communicate with each other, no matter where they may be from. No matter what background, ethnicity, nationality, race, color, age, or even language, the power of music, allows these creatives, to communicate with each other, despite the many so called “barriers” that often hinders us.
Mario’s introduction to music, during his formative years, like many others was from growing up in church. This would play a major role in the development of the drummer Mario is today. Growing up and playing in Mario’s church wasn’t an easy feat, being the youngest out of a surplus of drummers; he had to wait his turn to play. This did not discourage Mario. Instead, it motivated him to make sure he was ready when the opportunity arose for him to play a song. His late uncle Glendale, was his first influence on the instrument. Growing up before the digital age, and the era of YouTube, other then the small collection of gospel music owned by his parents, that was the extent of his exposure. Mario was fortunate enough to grow up in the great Tidewater area, Hampton, Va. to be exact, and was able to meet some great drummers, who have influenced him over the years.
High school continued to be a proving ground for Mario. He was a standout drummer in the marching and jazz band, earning him an opportunity to play in the All-City and All State Jazz Band in Hampton, Virginia. Led by the late, Al Morris.
After making the decision to move to Atlanta, Georgia, Mario sought out a school he learned about through a commercial, the Atlanta Institute of Music, where he would later audition and be accepted to attend. Able to come up with the start up tuition, through the help of family, Mario was able to start school, not knowing how he would pay for the rest. While attending the Atlanta Institute of Music open house, he learned about the Achievement based scholarship. This is a merit based scholarship which is awarded based on the student maintaining a high GPA, perfect attendance, and having good reputation as a student with the professors and classmates. Through hard work and dedication, he was awarded the scholarship and was able to pay for and finish school. He studied under, Creig Harber, Tom Knight, and Eric Sanders, all of who he owes a great deal to, for giving him the push, tools, and direction he needed to trek his own path.
After finishing school, Mario hit the great Atlanta music scene, and continues to find himself playing and meeting some of the worlds greatest musicians. He teaches private lessons, and still plays at church every weekend. He freelances, and performs under many different monikers of his own, and plays many different genres from, funk, jazz, rnb, gospel, to second line, sometimes all in the same day. You can often catch him in the drum-sax duo called @Thnx4listening, with the amazing Marquinn Mason. He frequently performs with Kebbie Williams and the Wolfpack, and Dashill Smith and the Omega Level. Mario is currently working with the Emory Arts Program as a adjunct artist under the leadership of Gary Motley. You can catch him every Sunday 8-11pm at Chairs with the Jacob Deaton Trio, a weekly jam session in East Point, Ga.
Mario continues to hone his craft and study the greats, in this ever learning quest of life and music.