B&E: Raul Midón

Breaking & Entering: A look at acts breaking at radio and retail and entering Billboard charts. This week: Raul Midón.

Profiling acts breaking at radio and/or retail and entering Billboard's charts.

Singer-songwriter Raul Midón has already made a big impression on the music industry. So much so, in fact, that on his debut album, "State of Mind," he worked with Grammy winning producer Arif Mardin and such notable artists as Stevie Wonder and Jason Mraz. With all the attention he's been getting, Midón is clearly on the road to success.

"State of Mind" entered Billboard's Top Heatseekers last week at No. 9.

Combining R&B, soul, jazz and Latin music, Midón is a guitar virtuoso who uses the instrument to create a myriad of sounds, and adds his own show stopping flair with what he calls his "mouth trumpet."

"It's a sound that incorporates everything that I love in music: the improvisation of jazz, the soul aesthetic," he says. "The rhythmic part of it comes from Latin music, from like Cuban music, salsa and that kind of thing."

As for mimicking the trumpet with his mouth, the New York-based artist says he learned that "from listening to a lot of trumpet players. It was just something that I started working on, and I keep working on it. I don't know how I discovered it, but it definitely came from having the desire to make my voice an instrument."

Midón, who has been blind since birth, is often compared to such artists as Donny Hathaway, Richie Havens and Wonder. He feels that comparisons between he and Wonder are made because they are both blind, but that that's where the similarities end.

"I think there's a certain aesthetic, a certain way of singing soul music, but I don't think my voice sounds like Stevie Wonder at all," he says. "Stevie is one of the great influences of mine. Primarily because he's a great songwriter, singer and player, but he is also an inspiration because he's blind and he's done so well and been so successful.

Midón adds that having Wonder play harmonica on the song "Expressions of Love" was a "dream come true."

In addition to Wonder, Midón's "State of Mind" includes an impressive list of well-known artists from many different genres. Jason Mraz lends vocals to "Keep on Holding," while other guests include Latin jazz flutist Dave Valentine, harmonica player Gregoire Maret, jazz vibraphonist Stefon Harris and percussionists Sammy Figueroa and Cyro Baptista.

No doubt these artists wanted to work with Midón because of his ability to write catchy, thought provoking songs.

"I'm not one to write a song just for the sake of it, I have to really believe what I'm saying," he says. "Along with the entertainment duty you have as an artist, you have the potential to speak to millions of people all at once, and that potential should be used. I feel that if I'm gonna write a song and speak to people, I want to say something that I truly believe might make somebody think differently about something. This is the gift that I have, and I should use it for good if possible."

Midón is currently on the road with Shelby Lynne.

Artist site: www.raulmidon.com
Label site: www.manhattanrecords.com


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