Jason Mraz has the weight of the world on his shoulders. On Dec. 16, the Grammy-winning singer will be the first international artist ever to perform at an open-air concert in Myanmar.
In partnership with MTV EXIT, Mraz will travel to Burma and sing to raise awareness and increase prevention of human trafficking.
“I’m treating it almost like every other concert, which is I wake up that day and I really think about what I’m gonna do in the show, based on how I feel, based on the environment, based on the stage,” he told The Hollywood Reporter at Z100's Jingle Ball 2012 presented by Aéropostale on Friday night.
Mraz will take the stage at the Yangon People’s Square at the base of the Shwedagon Pagoda with Myanmar’s top artists, Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein and R Zarni. The free concert will be broadcast on Myanmar national television and will air across MTV’s international network in early 2013.
But don’t expect him to stray far from his top acoustic hits like “I Won’t Give Up” and “The Remedy,” or his latest release off Love Is A Four Letter Word, entitled “93 Million Miles."
“I will not be bringing new material because all the material has to be prescreened and approved by the government,” he said. “But I will say, because it’s such a heavy topic – the topic of ending exploitation and human trafficking – we’ve curated a set list that’s togetherness, self-empowerment, peace and love, harmony, working together."
Despite whatever preparations, Mraz admitted that his nerves occasionally get the best of him.
“I get nervous sometimes before a solo or before a certain verse, something where I feel I have to engage differently on my stage,” he told reporters. “But I try to just think about where the audience is, and then it gets me out of my head and it’s really a big joint effort.”
The singer took the Madison Square Garden Stage with a medley of acoustic Christmas carols, and mixed his top song “I’m Yours” with a few measures of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds.” He also sang with fellow headliner Ed Sheeran for a rendition of “Empire State of Mind,” originally championed by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.
“Phenomenal guitar player, really great voice,” he said of Sheeran. When asked who else he was excited to see at Jingle Ball, he praised Taylor Swift. “I have seen [her] before – she does a great thing. She shows up with all these surprises and has incredible stage presence.”
So what will the singer-songwriter set as his New Year’s resolution? “Every year, people come up with a long list of resolutions, but they forget them,” he told reporters. “It’s all about setting an intention, creating a mantra for yourself.”
Mraz will be recognized for his longtime leadership in social causes with The ASCAP Foundation Champion Award, to be presented during the Foundation's annual awards ceremony, held at the Allen Room, Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, in New York City.