Mario Smith – Iowa’s New R&B Sensation

Mario Smith

“Many are called but, the chosen are few”…and in this chosen few, of the soul music world, you will find R&B/Soul crooner Mario Smith. Hurling like a tornado, this young artist, from Midwestern Iowa, is creating more than a “buzz” up & down the western and southern regions. Also, known as “Rio”, this firestorm of talent has already been christened “The Son of Soul”, by bringing a revival of life and energy back to R&B music.

Originally from the little town of Ripley, TN and the youngest of three children, his beloved Grandmother Essie Smith and his Father James Smith raised Rio. They both instilled and nurtured his love for music and encouraged his gift of song. While his father and uncles were well known Gospel artist, Mario used to practice with him grandmother by, singing songs into a fan and imitating Michael Jackson dance moves, just to make her smile.

It wasn’t long before other took notice of his raw natural abilities and after his family relocated to Iowa, Rio really began to shine.

Influenced by the likes of: Tank, Ginuwine, Jodeci and Al Green, Mario’s vocals are smooth, yet full and powerful and his soulful melodies have allowed him to travel and make fans across the nation. Creating him and the opportunity to have worked with several amazing acts, such as: Woody from Dru Hill, Calvin Richardson, Steve Russell and Silk.

Within his music, you can hear the elements of passion, pain, struggle, triumph and love. These aspects combined with his pleasant charm, easy going personality and endearing nature, has easily made him, a fast growing YouTube sensation; which has garnered him a video production deal, through YouTube. Not only is Rio working on his upcoming CD project but he is also due to co-star in two touring theatrical productions: “The Devil Thought You Had Me” and “God’s Numbering”.

When asked, why he hasn’t been signed yet, Mario humbly states: “I am on God’s time, and he has not brought me this far to leave him now”. It is crystal clear that Mario “Rio” Smith was born to sing and it is no doubt, that his powerful voice, incredible stage presence & fearless spirit, will continue to move crowds, keep audiences awe struck and make him a household name, for decades to come!

HipHopLead- Whats good Rio hows things going?

Rio- I’m good family just working on this New Project – staying focused

HipHopLead- Ok for starts lets get the basics. What were you musical and personal inspirations to get into music?

Rio-Ginuwine, after seeing people reaction from his performance it made me say I would love to do that one day.

HipHopLead- We recently heard you on Digital Dynasty R&B Vol. 4 (Hosted by Sammie). Your music has that classic R&b feel to it. What makes you stick to the golden era sound, rather then what these artists are doing nowerdays?

Rio-Because the old golden sound you were able to relate to it and it was just something that stuck with me, but I do love the new sound as well.

HipHopLead- With that said do you think “real” R&b is missing these days?

Rio-Yes, but the good part about it is Real R&B is on the come back, we just need to keep the authenticity of it alive.

HipHopLead- When you wrote and sang “There’s The Door” it sounded extremely personal. Was that record from experience?

Rio- It’s crazy you ask that I was actually the one walking to the door!  For me to be able to write that song I had to put myself in her shoes, so yes it was personally inspired.

HipHopLead- We saw the video of you on stage singing Sam Cook’s “A Change Gonna Come” and you did that track major justice. Was it nerve racking taking on such an iconic record like that?

Rio- Thank you by the way …and no it was not nerve racking it was an honor to sing his song, I admire his work!

HipHopLead- Lets keep it real. Do you think in this modern day era the days of the real lyricist in Hip Hop, and the days of the real singers in R&B, have a hard time getting in the lime light?

Rio- Yes, because everything is so commercial now, but sooner or later it will all die down. R&B has struggled for many years to stay alive, but it is alive and well!

HipHopLead- So we know you are from Iowa. No one has put Iowa in the map as of yet. So I hope we don’t sound to naive but is there a R&b and Hip Hop scene out there?

Rio- I’m not from Iowa, I been out here for a minute and it’s a lot of talent out here. Iowa is just looked over but I’m actually originally from Ripley, TN.

HipHopLead- What is the general Iowa sound when it comes to these genres. You know the East, West and South have their own type of sound. What is Iowa like?

Rio- Quiet, a great place to raise families I guess, depending on where you live in Iowa.  It feels like a mixture between the South and the Midwest.

HipHopLead- So you were born in Tennessee and then moved to Iowa. How old were you when you first moved?

Rio- I was born in Chicago raised in Tennessee moved to Iowa when I was 19.

HipHopLead- What was the difference in both of the states? Like what are the Pro’s and Con’s of both?

Rio- It’s the same as Iowa, we just don’t have as much violence / killings.

HipHopLead- You are starting to get quite the following on youtube. Especially on the performance of the Ginuwine’s “Pony” song. Has anyone ever told you that you sound just like him?

Rio- ( laughing ) Yea, all the time.

Watch it here:

HipHopLead- So what’s next for you project wise?

Rio- A constant grind.. touring, creating a MARIO SMITH buzz, a few singles dropping, then the ALBUM. Man, I just want to continue to put out good music that people can relate to – so more good thangs to come!

HipHopLead- Any official music videos coming out?

Rio- Yes, headed to Seattle to put one out for “There’s The Door” and one for my Single.

HipHopLead- So 5 months ago you dropped the fiery mixtape “Something You Been Missin”. What type of mind state you were in when you crafted this type of tape.

Rio- In this thing called life, I was definitely going through some things, wanting to UNLEASH and really put something out to show people that real feel good music aint dead!

HipHopLead- There is so much quality music on this project. What made you want to give it out for free?
I’ve realized that selling isn’t everything gifting makes much more of an impact when you can do it.

Rio- You song “I Wish” really had us hitting rewind. Do you have any plans for a video, or a single release, for that track?
Yes, definitely more to come on that song from my mixtape.  It has received great response.

Here at we like to ask questions out the norm so the fans can get a better feel to you as not just an artist, but as a person. With that said, fasten your seat belts, here we go! (laughs)

HipHopLead- Baddest chick in the game right??

Rio- Alicia Keys is very talented!

HipHopLead- Give us a hidden talent RIO has that no one knows about?

Rio- Man, I like playing Basketball.

HipHopLead- Have you ever seen the movie “Whiteboyz” that came out in the late 90’s regarding these wanna be rappers from Iowa (laughs)??

Rio- (Laughs) Naw I heard about it thoe!

HipHopLead- Best group in your opinion — Boyz 2 Men or Jodeci?

Rio- Jodeci hands down!

HipHopLead- King of R&b in your opinion.

Rio- I would have to say R. Kelly.

HipHopLead- Did Trey Songz jack R Kelly’s style??

Rio- In my opinion, No – two different styles.  There may have been some influence thoe!

HipHopLead- Being a real singer yourself how does it feel when you hear people like Future singing hooks?

Rio- I don’t have a problem with it… it actually gives me different ideas.

HipHopLead- Name one music artist you can’t stand to listen to?

Rio- I am open minded.

HipHopLead- If you could work with any artists in the world dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Rio- Bobby Womack, Sam Cooke, Ginuwine, R Kelly and Tank. The talent…the experience… the industry, tribal knowledge, would be priceless.

Ok back to the norm…

HipHopLead- Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

Rio- Being widely recognized name/brand in the business.  Working with some of the biggest names in the game and maybe even having my own independent label.

HipHopLead- Are you looking for a major label or indy label?

Rio- Just staying Indy for now, keeps me closer to my fans, goal and strategic plans for my project.

HipHopLead- Cool. It was great chopping it up with you and we really enjoyed your music a lot. You have a lot of talent and we look forward to watching your evolution as an artist and your climb to the top. So now the floor is yours. Give any shout outs, plugs, FU’S or whatever’s clever..

Rio- First off I would like to Thank you for this opportunity mane! Shout out to Ripley,TN , Iowa City and Seattle Shout out to my team Carte Blanche Entertainment and to everybody that’s been supporting me since day one! Shout to my family, BIG THANKS to my big bro Jay Robinson in NC!!

If your an R&B lover keep an eye out for me and an ear out for my music. I talk about real life issues, growth and most importantly LOVE. Definitly follow me @mariosmithmusic. Stay tuned for my tour/show dates and video updates on youtube: mariosmithmusic or Remember to Keep GOD first!

You Might Like
More Unsigned Hip Hop