With the title of his third album, Mario is revealing both his surname and the secret to his success.
"Naturally, I just evolved into a more creative artist," Mario said of Mario Barrett - Effortless, due November 28. "I'm digging deeper inside myself, and I'm more passionate about the art."
Mario has said the album will feature Alicia Keys (see "Mario Taps Dupri, Alicia Keys For Next LP; Acting Career Is Rising Fast"), Nelly and Akon. He's also said it will include production by Scott Storch, the Neptunes and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, although the track list has yet to be confirmed. The likely first single is "How Do I Breathe."
"It's definitely [showing] that more mysterious side of myself," Mario said of the album, citing a song called "Let Me Watch" as evidence.
"It's very mysterious but still very melodic. I'm a singer. I've grown up listening to all different types of music and all different types of singers, so that comes across in my music."
Mario may be a singer, and a popular one at that (2004's Turning Point has sold 1.2 million copies), but he's also working on his reputation as an actor.
His first flick, "Step Up," was a surprise success this summer, and his follow-up, "Freedom Writers," is one of the most hotly anticipated movies of 2007.
"Hilary Swank plays a teacher who moves to Los Angeles, and she's basically using her own methods, going against the board of education, which doesn't really spend too much time on the young adults, and helping them to get the right education," Mario explained. "So she takes it upon herself to do that. It's a very intense film. It's actually based on a true story. So if you're a book reader you can go out and get the book, titled 'The Freedom Writers Diary.' "
Mario plays one of the students. "It's a very intense character who basically takes care of the whole household himself," he said. "His mother is really strung out. And he goes to school every day just hoping to make it home.
"I had to make sure that the role suited me and gave me a chance to show my acting ability," he continued. "That right there will also help me with my music, being more creative and mentally thinking outside the box."
Along with Mario Barrett - Effortless and "Freedom Writers,"
Mario is also busy working on developing other singers, producing music and writing songs for others.
"The best thing about being in the industry and growing as an artist is learning how to really just be yourself and sell yourself as a true person, so that your fans can really get to know you," Mario said of his expanding career. "That's how you create longevity, especially if you're really doing it for the love of the music."