Atlantic recording artist Jason Mraz has announced the establishment of the Jason Mraz Foundation, devoted to supporting a number of charities for which he has been a dedicated and impassioned advocate.

The Grammy Award-winning tunesmith heralded the Foundation’s launch on December 3rd with a sold out intimate benefit concert at the famed Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, California, near San Diego, where Mraz began his extraordinary career by performing in coffee shops.

Long known for his many philanthropic activities, Mraz created the Jason Mraz Foundation to sustain organizations aligned with his four pillars of service: human equality, environment preservation, arts and education, and recovery and assistance. Among the organizations supported by the Jason Mraz Foundation are Free The Slaves, dedicated to eradicating child slavery around the world; True Colors Fund, which promotes the advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality; Surfrider Foundation, dedicated to protecting our world’s oceans, beaches, and waves; the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which works to protect wildlife and wild places and to ensure a healthy environment for all life on earth; youth organizations VH1 Save The Music Foundation and Free The Children ; the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC); and the health/rehabilitation charities MusiCares and Life Rolls On, dedicated to improving the quality of life for young people affected by spinal cord injury and utilizes action sports as a platform to inspire infinite possibilities despite paralysis.

Saturday’s benefit concert saw Mraz performing alongside his longtime friend, percussionist Noel “Toca” Rivera, with whom he recently wrapped a major international acoustic tour. The worldwide trek – which included performances in North America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia – saw Mraz celebrating music’s lasting power to inspire change and help others through global citizenship. Among the journey’s many highlights were multiple sold out shows at such iconic venues as Australia’s Sydney Opera House, New York City’s Carnegie Hall, and Spreckels Theatre in Mraz’s adopted hometown of San Diego.

Mraz and Rivera will officially conclude their 2011 tour on Monday, December 19th with an additional benefit performance, this time at Richmond, Virginia’s Carpenter Theater. Proceeds from the sold out concert will go to one of the Jason Mraz Foundation’s beneficiaries, the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC).

Hailed as one of the modern era’s most gifted pop troubadours, Mraz has shared stages with Rivera for more than a decade. The two musicians first met back in 2000, when Mraz was just making his mark on the San Diego coffee house scene. Enthralled by the young songwriter’s free-flowing lyrical mastery, Rivera invited Mraz to join the eponymous trio he fronted alongside his brother Carlos. The group hit the road, travelling California’s highways and byways together in a beat-up Winnebago, inspiring Mraz’s classic song, “Dream Life of Rand McNally.” When Carlos decided to take time off, Jason and Toca continued to collaborate as a duo, earning acclaim and passionate audience responses wherever they performed. Mraz’s guitar and vocals match beautifully with Rivera’s intuitive djembe playing, and the two maintain a long friendship and collaborative relationship, recording and touring together to this day.

Mraz has taken his musical journey from coffee houses to stadiums globally and now has two Grammy Awards and six Grammy nominations to his credit. His latest album, “WE SING. WE DANCE. WE STEAL THINGS.” proved a global blockbuster, earning platinum and multi-platinum certifications in 17 countries around the world. The Mraz-penned “I’m Yours” was ASCAP’s 2010 “Song of the Year” and also holds the record for being the longest-running song in the history of the Billboard “Hot 100” chart. A prolific songwriter, Mraz has been feted with a number of honors, including the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s esteemed “Hal David Starlight Award,” presented to gifted songwriters who are making a significant impact in the music industry via their original songs.

Find out more about the Jason Mraz Foundation here.

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