MARIO EVON - The Musical Healer

…tough personal decisions juggling a career in medicine and music

BY PAUL ALLEN
Observer writer

Sunday, June 23, 2019

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A chance viewing of a visually stunning music video while trying to climb out of the rabbit hole that is YouTube's recommended section led to the discovery of and fascination with the music of an up-and-coming Jamaican artiste who had just released a song aptly titled Soul Tek. But, we put the proverbial cart before the horse.

Tussling with the idea of what to pursue as a career path is something many people find decidedly difficult to settle on.

Not Mario Guthrie however, who has spent the past few years forging a name as both medical doctor and musician, two career paths that may seem utterly opposed but for which he has successfully managed to create a dynamic synergy.

Guthrie, a graduate of Campion College, said he was fascinated by entertainment coordinators in hotels as a young man, and would mimic their “vocal innuendos and dance moves”.

As he grew older, he leaned towards more academic pursuits by attending the University of The West Indies, Mona, where he pursued medicine as his course of study.

Despite Guthrie's achievements as a medical doctor subsequent to graduation, his passion for music persisted, resulting in his return to school to study music in Massachusetts in the United States of America.

“I think my years at Berklee College of Music were pivotal in the honing of my creative side in a way I never had before.

This was post-medical degree, internship and a few years of working as a doctor. So, in a way, even though I became a doctor, I still ended up being an entertainer and entrepreneur, as my childhood mind had dreamt.”

Guthrie's resolve saw him release his first album, Reggae-Soul Vol 1: ME On Love, a distinctive composite of R&B and reggae tracks, in 2015. It was an interesting time for the singer who, notwithstanding a lingering moniker as “The Singing Doctor”, found himself at a crossroads between the two callings.

“I still deliberate between choosing one over the other, though I have managed to juggle many interests at what I think to be a decent level, Guthrie said, adding “being an adult and having responsibilities really has guided me, as entertainment can pay well but gig consistency varies.”

“Medicine, on the other hand, is more predictable, requires more responsibility but doesn't make me feel the same way as being creative.”

His private practice as a general practitioner also offers him its own fulfillment, sharing that he enjoys “creating a space of comfort for a patient to be open and candid, and then having the opportunity to educate them, and empower them to take charge of their health”.

As if that weren't enough to juggle, his recent foray into media co-hosting a local morning television programme was recently extended with the launch of his podcast, Talk Truth with Mario Evon. This he said “came out of a love for listening to podcasts, then a desire to create something unique, that involved engaging people with real stories, and who could share their truth and use it to inspire others and also empower self”.

It's a tough balancing act for someone who already has a full-time job in a demanding field paired with the demands of his other engagements while following his passion for music, but one which he seems to better than seemingly thought possible.

Of his successes, he notes that the release of his debut album, making it to the final round of the renowned Amateur Night at the Apollo in New York and forgoing a medical specialisation to pursue his passion by way of a music degree are some of his proudest moments.

“But, I'd say I'm most proud of not being afraid to go against the grain in many regards, especially in spaces that have promoted traditional structures, and realising that it never affected anything in doing so.”

The multi-hyphenate Guthrie hopes that a new album, greater recognition as a Jamaican podcaster and development of the Mario Evon brand in medicine and entertainment will be among his next successes within a year.

And to young people who would like to walk a similar path, he had this to say, “Have a plan around pursuing what you absolutely love. Work hard and don't let anyone dissuade you from believing that you can work in a field that you love…Be gracious, be humble, be fearless. Never give up.”


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