Raul Midon
Raul Midon It's rare that an artist arrives onto the pop music scene so fully loaded with the kind of hit-making potential that singer-composer-guitarist Raúl Midón possesses. The New Mexico-born, New York-based Midón makes his recording debut with State of Mind, produced by Arif Mardin and Joe Mardin for Manhattan Records. The 13-track collection of Midón originals is a remarkable mélange of soul, R&B, pop, folk, jazz and Latin. The CD places on display his earnest, lyrical songwriting; full-bodied vocals steeped in soul; a singular syncopated, flamenco- and jazz-infused acoustic guitar style; a unique vocal trumpet improvisation; and hopeful disposition.

While you can hear traces of Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Jose Feliciano and, Richie Havens in his music, Midón is an extraordinary original whose passion is expressed in his indelible songs. "I like to celebrate the possible, the highest, the best of possibilities for human beings," says Midón, who has been blind since birth and is the son of an African American mother and an Argentinean father. "It's easy to be pessimistic given the state of the world. But I'm inspired by people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi who had the ability to transform. Collectively we create an enormously powerful force that can change the world and overcome any obstacle."

State of Mind is a revelation. The CD not only trains the spotlight on Midón's buoyant delivery, but also boasts a guest roster featuring Stevie Wonder (a guest harmonica performance on "Expressions of Love") and Jason Mraz (a vocal duet on their collaborative song, the reggae-inflected "Keep on Hoping"). In addition there are contributions from Latin jazz flutist Dave Valentin and percussionist Sammy Figueroa (on the Afro-Cuban sizzling "I Would Do Anything."), harmonica ace Gregoire Maret and percussionist Cyro Baptista (on the exuberant "Sunshine") and jazz vibraphonist Stefon Harris, who performs on the sublime "All in Your Mind." This last song is Midón's way of opening a window on what it's like to be blind. "I wrote 'All in Your Mind' to talk about how, when you're blind, you perceive everything through your imagination."

The overarching sensibility of Raúl Midón's auspicious premiere, State of Mind, is a sunny optimism‹that despite the dark days there is a light. "Part of our mission as artists, besides entertaining," Midón says, " is to say something positive, without preaching, to our audience, whether it numbers in the hundreds or millions."