A/V Room









Mario Winans - the super-producer turns singer

Feature: Jack Foley

BAD Boy Records’ singer, songwriter and producer, Mario Winans, has stepped out from behind the producer’s desk and into the limelight with the UK release of his highly-successful single, I Don’t Wanna Know.

The track, which features P Diddy, a sample from The Fugees and (curiously) Enya, has already enjoyed phenomenal success in America, where it has helped to propel sales of Mario’s new album, Hurt No More, to over 600,000.

It was initially leaked to a US radio station earlier this year, and listeners immediately flooded Djs with requests to hear it.

And, in an interesting flip-side to Eamon’s recent scored effort, (Fuck It) I Don’t Want You Back, the track is credited for going to a place that few R&B singers have ever gone before - the decision to face a woman’s infidelity and ignore it.

Not that Winans has to worry about any damage to his image, given the success he has enjoyed within the industry thus far.

The super-producer has worked with some of the best-known R&B/hip-hop names in the industry today, including Mary J Blige, Whitney Houston, R. Kelly, Jennifer Lopez, The Notorious B.I.G. and P. Diddy, to name but a few.

His story began in his grandmother’s kitchen, as he recalls: "I was constantly banging on the pots and pans with wire hangers… As far as I was concerned, I was playing the drums."

His fascination with percussion continued throughout his childhood, nurtured by his world-renown Winans’ gospel family, and, during his teens, he also learned to play piano, drums and keyboards. Winan’s turning point as a producer, however, came when his mother, the famous gospel singer, Vickie Winans, brought home a room full of recording equipment.

"I just taught myself how to operate every machine in there. And from then on, I was making beats constantly."

Only one week after graduating from high school, Winans produced an entire gospel album for a local group.

And a subsequent trip to Atlanta resulted in a meeting with producer, Dallas Austin who was so impressed with the young man’s production skills, that he signed him as an in-house producer.

Work with R. Kelly soon followed and Winans quickly developed his reputation as a top-notch producer and songwriter.

Ironically, Winans never gave much consideration to becoming a recording artist but, following a conversation with P Diddy, who had been a great admirer of his work, Winans signed to Bad Boy as an artist in his own right.

The culmination of a decade’s long journey is the Bad Boy debut, Hurt No More, which is being hailed as soul music that bridges the gap between the hard-edged flavour of modern day R&B music and the honest, vulnerable passion in the music of years gone by.

Indeed, according to Winans himself, vulnerability is a key theme of the album and he claims to bring an earnest, sincere approach to his music that hasn’t been heard in years.

"This record is about relationships, pure and simple," he explained. "We all have hearts. Sometimes we have to look deeper into what we’re saying and doing to the people we care about. At the bottom of these fights, it’s usually always something deeper."

Other tracks include Three Days Ago, an open letter to someone who is deeply missed, Disbelief, Can’t Judge Me and Pretty Girl Bullsh*t.

"I’ve been in a lot of the experiences on this record," says Winans. "And I can talk about them. I can sing about them. As long as I’m making people feel, I’m doing what I was put here by God to do."

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