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Mario Evon does the balancing act

Published:Sunday | August 16, 2015 | 8:00 AMJody-Anne Lawrence

If you work hard and focus, you can achieve your career goals and indulge in your passions at the same time. Dr Mario Guthrie has pulled this off, balancing the stethoscope and the microphone with a surgeon's precision. Guthrie, known in the music business by his stage name, Mario Evon, has released an album, M.E. On Love, which acts as a stamp of authenticity on the medical doctor's singing career.

The journey has not been easy for him, but he told Outlook that there is nothing he would change.

Guthrie completed his medical studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI), following in the footsteps of his father who is also a medical doctor. It's an accomplishment he is proud of and has never regretted. He said he loves interacting with his patients and building a rapport with them. As fulfilling as this is, though, Guthrie knew he needed to respond to his yearning to express himself artistically.

He revealed to Outlook that he has been singing from the age of seven, when he attended Mona Preparatory. He later became a member of the popular UWI Singers group. So when he decided to pursue music after completing his degree in medicine, it did not come as a huge surprise to those who knew him best. He wanted to do it right, though, so he applied to Berklee College of Music, landing a partial scholarship to attend the Boston institution. There, he pursued a degree in song writing, music business and management, while returning to Jamaica periodically to practise medicine, so that he could keep his license current and fund his music career, which was getting off the ground with small wedding gigs where he'd sing with friends from school.

When it was time to return to Jamaica in 2010, he knew he didn't want to be someone who sang "here and there" at small shows. He wanted to be a bona fide recording artiste.

"I wanted to have an album," he said.

That, he would learn, was a mammoth endeavour.

"People tend to think that because I am a doctor I could easily afford this, but that is definitely not the case. I am not a full-time doctor. I am not in the office every day with patients, so the money does not come that quickly," he said.

Guthrie started to raise funds on kickstarter.com, a crowd-funding website for creative projects. This helped him out greatly, and with the added support of his parents, Wendel and Marguerite, his brother, Wayne, and Elva Clarke, Guthrie has achieved his goal. He launched his first studio album in March this year. He describes it as a poetic rendition of matters of the heart, that gives a taste of everything the heart goes through, including love at first sight, passion, and lost love. He calls his sound 'Reggae Soul'.

"I love reggae and I grew up on great R&B music like Boyz II Men, so I wanted to put the two together to sound like me," he said.

Having a clear identity in music is important to Guthrie. While he loves medicine, he does not want anyone to be thinking of medicine while listening to his songs or watching him perform.

"I want to be seen as clean, but laid-back and relaxed, not the corporate guy with the stethoscope," he said.

Guthrie hasn't yet found that special lady love. He said he is open to having a relationship, but with his album just being launched and his hectic day job, relationships have had to take a back seat for now. It's clear though, that when the time is right, the singing doctor will be able to add more facets to his life and if this album is anything to go by, he'll be a true jack of all trades and a master of them all.