Jason Mraz visited a group of lawmakers Wednesday and made everyone cry.
The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter took to the stage at the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ (ASCAP) 10th annual “We Write the Songs” event, held to rally support from Congress for legislation aimed at helping songwriters. The Mechanicsville, Va., native brought two students on stage from the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC), his hometown’s all-inclusive arts program for kids of varying abilities, to play ukulele while he performed his hit “I’m Yours,” and everyone went “aww.” Then he brought on a whole group of SPARC students, including some with disabilities, to accompany him during his ballad “I Won’t Give Up,” and people started tearing up. And when the kids started singing along with him while holding hands and then broke into an interpretive dance complete with sign language, the waterworks really began.
“Beautiful. Just beautiful,” a man in the audience said with a sigh while trying to subtly blink away tears.
Then suddenly, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) appeared toward the end of the song to play a rather passionate — and surprisingly good — harmonica solo that was so random you couldn’t help but laugh. Thanks for the comedic relief, Tim. We needed that. (Oh, and he’s not living it down anytime soon. “I didn’t recognize you without the harmonica!” someone quipped at Kaine while passing by after the show.)
Mraz was one of six performers (well, other than Kaine) who appeared on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Helping join ASCAP to butter up Congress were songwriters Johntá Austin, who worked on Mary J. Blige’s “Be Without You” and Mariah Carey’s hit “We Belong Together”; Brandy Clark (Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart”); Beach Boys co-founder Mike Love; Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers, and Suzanne Vega (“Tom’s Diner”).
“This is an opportunity to hopefully get to the hearts of lawmakers and remind them to feel,” Mraz said. “I would like songwriters to be treated with dignity so when someone, or a child says, ‘I want to be a songwriter,’ it’s not like, ‘Don’t do it.’ ”
ASCAP’s latest effort to target the pay issues that songwriters face is in the process of passing.
“We just sailed through the House unopposed with the Music Modernization Act and things are looking good in the Senate as well,” ASCAP President Paul Williams said. “I think people are so thrilled to have something they can agree on.”
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) agreed. “They say Washington is a powerful town, but music is more powerful,” he said. “It’s so powerful, it can bring together Democrats and Republicans.”