Forest Park resident Maurice Mahon has made it to the big time.
After winning WGCI’s Chicago Idol contest in 2003, he’s toured four times with R. Kelly, opened for Alicia Keys, sung in front of 80,000 people in South Africa, and toured with Tyler Perry. In the fall, he’ll be coming out with a CD called The New Face of Soul.
Yet, what he wants to do most right now is perform at Forest Park’s SummerFest, coming up on June 4 and 5.
“I’m so wanting to do the community,” Mahon told the Review. “This is bigger to me than singing across the world. You know why? I want to generate all the love I’ve gotten from being a musician and a singer.”
Because the director of this year’s SummerFest, Cec Hardacker, has already booked the bands and filled the schedule for the event, she’s going to fit the Chicago Idol in between acts. One other possibility is to have him open the program on Saturday with the national anthem, as he did every night on a recent 42-state tour with R. Kelly.
Mahon hasn’t let his success as a singer go to his head.
“When I’m on stage,” he says, “it’s showtime. Other than that, it doesn’t pay to be above average. You do something great, and you come home and wash the dishes. You win a football game, and you come home and empty the garbage and feed your little brothers and sisters.”
That’s why he’s happy to live in Forest Park with his wife of 17 years, who works as a beauty consultant in Oak Park, and his 8-year-old son, who goes to Garfield Elementary School.
Although his business card says “Maurice Mahon, ENTERTAINER,” he understands what he does onstage to be a form of ministry.
“When you’re onstage,” he says, “that’s your congregation right there. I think being in church all those years had everything to do with being able to connect with people. I just did a show at the DuSable Museum with Julia Huff three Saturdays ago – 1,700 people. The place was packed, and they connected. It’s like having a conversation.”
He acknowledged that music is a powerful medium that can have a big influence, especially on young people. In a sense, a talented singer has a certain power over his audience. “You can give them poison or you can give them life,” Mahon says. “I prefer giving life.”
Even when what he’s performing isn’t gospel music, Mahon refers to his program as inspirational. That’s why he’s so eager to share his music at this local level. “If 10 guys of my color would see me doing a positive thing,” he said, “they might be changed and empower 10 others.”
And then he added, “Soul music doesn’t have a color to it. It’s what you write from your heart. Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson wrote the greatest lyrics. But so did Elton John and Paul McCartney.”
He said that his music, what he calls the new face of soul, is simply an extension of what those great songwriters began. To see and hear Mahon sing, go to www.mauricemahon.com. To get an update of when he’ll sing at Summerfest, go to www.Summerfestfp.com.