Photo by Justin Bettman

Having it All

Grammy award winner Jason Mraz talks his upcoming tour, new musical endeavors and farming coffee

Jason Mraz is walking through his farm in Southern California, harvesting figs and dealing with the occasional weed as he talks on the phone to Eugene Weekly.

The 42-year-old Have it All singer moved to the farm in 2004, looking for a place to retreat between tours. 

Now, Mraz is traveling around the West Coast and Canada for his current tour, An Evening with Jason Mraz & Raining Jane, which stops in Eugene Wednesday, Oct. 30.

Mraz says fans can expect the show to be light and humorous. He met Raining Jane — a four-woman rock-folk band — in 2006. A year later the group started collaborating with him to write songs. In 2013, Mraz says, he realized they had co-written enough songs to do their own project, which led to the creation of his 2014 album Yes!

With this tour, Mraz wants to share songs that look for the good in an increasingly dark world. Both Mraz and the women of Raining Jane share beliefs in optimism and having positive attitudes, he says. 

“We are trying to sing some light onto some shadows that currently exist.” 

Mraz rose to fame in the early 2000s, when his single “I’m Yours” reached the top of the charts. He went on to win two Grammys in 2010: one shared with singer Colbie Caillat for their duet “Lucky” and another the same year for his song “Make it Mine.”

In February, Mraz will take his music to a new stage in putting on SHINE, a performance that he describes as “musical-ish.” SHINE is a showcase of nonprofits supported by his organization, the Jason Mraz Foundation. The show will use Mraz’s catalogue of songs, held together by a loose narrative that links the songs together, he says. He adds that the musical is three years in the making and includes performances by kids of all talents and abilities.

In addition to his projects with charity and his tour, Mraz spends his free time working on Mraz Family Farms. The farm is a modest 15 acres, and about 10 of them are currently in use.

“What I did not expect was to get so involved in the earth,” he says. “It really had a transformational effect on my health, attitude and energy.”

Throughout the years, Mraz learned how to farm successfully, gleaning knowledge from other farmers in the area. He began by producing only avocados and has since diversified his crop production, which now includes coffee.

He explains that in Southern California, it takes longer for the coffee cherry to grow and mature. 

“The benefit of that is the slower the maturation, the sweeter the sugar in that coffee cherry which actually makes for a really complex favor,” he says. “If you slow down, things just get better. I wish big businesses understood that.”

Mraz pauses after his philosophical musings of growing coffee and society. 

“Sorry,” Mraz says and laughs. “I’m kind of rambling now.”

Mraz has been farming and performing for almost two decades at this point and says that over the years, his motivations have changed. 

“You are driven by different things and different attitudes. You are trying to pay the bills and make some noise. Over the years I’ve had the privilege of making some of those things come true.” What motivates him now?

“People are giving me their greatest wealth and their time and attention,” Mraz says. “I found that a tremendous amount of responsibility to be inspiring, comforting and motivating.”

See Jason Mraz and Raining Jane perform at the Hult Center 8 pm Oct. 30. Tickets $30-114