Picks and Pans Review: Introducing

updated 08/25/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/25/2003 01:00AM

JASON MRAZ Though it was released last October, Jason Mraz's debut disc, Waiting for My Rocket to Come, has only recently taken off, thanks to his hit single "The Remedy (I Won't Worry)." The folky singer is currently on tour through the fall.

MAKING THE BAND While growing up in Mechanicsville, Va., Mraz, 26, was the youngest member of a local boy band called Dressed to Kill. "I was 13 and the other guys were in their 20s, so I was doing all the high parts," he says. "My hair was like Jordan Knight from New Kids on the Block, and I wore big shoulder pads in my jacket."

MUSICAL CURE "The Remedy (I Won't Worry)" was inspired after a good friend was diagnosed with bone cancer. "He would tell me, 'Dude, don't worry about it. Living through this is going to be the best thing,' " says Mraz, whose pal Charlie Mingroni is now in remission and living in the singer's L.A. apartment. "What's cool is that the success of 'The Remedy' is paying his rent."

FOSTER CARE The single Mraz brings a stuffed animal named Foster along with him on the road. "He's a little chicken. I think he was tossed onto the stage one night," Mraz says. "I grew up with this little [stuffed] duck that looked almost exactly like him. I honestly believe Foster is a reincarnation of Binky." Marisa Laudadio

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