Looking at William Mandell, I can't help but be reminded of a young Jason Mraz --- from his musical talents right down to the stylish hat perched precariously on his head.
Mandell was born and raised in Foster City, a place he considers to be diverse and one of the safest communities in the area. And after spending several years in college and globe trotting across the world, he's returned to his hometown in hopes of furthering his music career by teaching lessons and playing local venues.
As a child, he picked up music fairly easily. Mandell plays the guitar, trumpet, piano, along with singing and composing. His parents were extremely supportive of his talent and gave him the freedom to explore his musical interest, and he dedicated himself to perfecting his skills.
"It's like playing a sport. You have to train your body. You play so much that I developed carpel tunnel syndrome," Mendelson.
After graduating Cal State East Bay with a degree in music, he toured Europe with the Cal State East Bay Band. During what he describes as "the trip of a lifetime," he was able to play in beautiful cities like Italy and France. One of the highlights of Mandell's European tour was playing in world famous Montreaux, Switzerland in front of 5,000 people where the annual Jazz festival takes place. The experience broaden his awareness of music and opened his eyes to social issues of other cities.
"[It was] one of the best times of my life" he beamed as told the story of being in front of so many people and feeling the energy of the crowd. "This was truly a life changing experience not only because of the music but experiencing the culture and lifestyle of another country."
After returning from Europe, Mandell played at some local spots such as Yoshi's in Oakland and Slim's in San Francisco, along with a tour in Reno, Atlanta, and Vegas. He recently played at Turtle Bay in Foster City, where was a waiter many years ago as a teen. In the midst of playing music and traveling he also made time to make a music video for his pop rock song "Three in the Morning."
In addition to his musical pursuits, Mandell enjoys multimedia art and has been inspired by many artists such as Cornelias out of Japan. Cornelias is a contemporary Japanese musician who is described as experimental and exploratory. Another, artist he enjoys is Michael Franti.
"I like him because of his ability to inspire people and the fact that he is willing to speak his mind." Mandell said.
Mandell's experiences across the world and in Foster City have made him socially aware, and he hopes to open his own non-profit to bring music and organic food to low income communities with the help of The Future Leader's Institute.
"I lived such a privileged life that it made me want to give back," he said.