Like many aspiring performers, Jason Mraz graduated from high school and moved to New York to study musical theatre. But, just a year later, he realized he wanted to follow a different path.
“I knew I wanted to drop out of school and pursue original music,” Mraz told host Ophira Eisenberg, “so I needed to find somebody who agreed with me.”
He found affirmation from a palm reader he met in Central Park. “He kinda went into, like, this trance, and he called me ‘youth,’ which I loved,” Mraz remembered. “He said, ‘Youth, you need to avoid the questioner and just go with what you know.'”
That was all he needed; Mraz dropped out of school and made his way to San Diego, California, where he built a successful career as a singer-songwriter with hits including “The Remedy” and “I’m Yours.”
Decades later, Mraz has returned to New York—and his original Broadway dreams—to star in Waitress, a musical written by his friend, singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles.
“I was just lucky enough to sing the duets on her concept album of this music that she wrote,” he said, “and then two years later she called and asked me if I’d want to be in the show.”
Mraz plays Dr. Jim Pomatter, an OB-GYN who falls in love with a pie baker. Though he didn’t hesitate to take the part when Bareilles asked, Mraz admitted he did feel some slight trepidation before stepping into the role. “I never finished college,” he said, “how could I be a doctor?”
Mraz has spent much of his life in recording studios and touring the world. With one album left on his recording contract, he’s looking forward to a more peaceful, productive existence. “I want to get out of the competition that pop music can be sometimes,” he said. “I want to finish that up and continue to be a performer and a writer, but just do it on my own time.”
As part of his semi-retirement plan, he also wanted to live in a more secluded environment. “I decided when I could eventually buy a house I wanted to live out in the country so I could just be as loud and as weird as I wanted to be,” he said. The California property he purchased happened to be an avocado farm, and Mraz has since become an avid avocado farmer.
In honor of his newfound passion for avocado farming, we challenged Mraz to a quiz about his favorite fruit (or is it a vegetable?) called “Avoca-Don’t You Know.”
On becoming an avocado farmer
It’s become hopefully something I’ll grow into and become an old-man-farmer doing. Was that a real sentence?
On his positive attitude
We have a choice. All of life is a big ol’ story. What story do you want to tell yourself?