Living & Entertainment

Pop recording artist Dario will headline Pride

Recording artist Dario is on the phone and he’s not sure he wants to reveal to a reporter how he started his musical career. Finally, he relents.

“I ran away from home when I was 16. I wanted to be a singer really bad. I wanted it really bad. I think if you want something bad enough, you have to go out and get it. Nobody is going to give it to you,” he says.

Dario, who is the headlining performer at Saturday’s Tacoma Pride Festival, isn’t advising kids to run away from home. It’s been a long journey for the Tucson, Ariz., native and he’s had more than a couple bumps along the way.

The LA-based pop singer just released his sixth album, “Evolution,” on April 29. He’s currently in the middle of a seven-month-long tour. About 80 percent of the stops are at Pride events. The day after Tacoma Pride, Dario and his crew head to Bellingham for that city’s pride festival.

The high number of Pride events reflect his fan base, he says.

Dario was a shy kid in high school, he says, and pursued singing in secret.

“A lot of my high school friends will be on Facebook and Twitter and go, ‘I didn’t even know Dario sang.’ To this day, people are surprised. I want to say ‘I’ve been doing it forever.’ I have – in my room.”

Dario’s teenage escape took him first to a talent search convention and then eventually to a tryout for the reality show “Popstars” on the WB network.

“I had my first really big Hollywood audition and it went really bad and I got kicked off the show,” he recalls.

Dario says his career isn’t about the pursuit of fame. “I wanted to be a musician and I wanted to make a living doing what I love.” Still, he knew that success in the music world means building a fan base.

“Everybody told me, ‘You don’t fit the mold. You’re not the right shape, the right color, the right size to make it in this business. You don’t look like a pop star.’ Nobody really believed in me.”

The following year he tried out for “American Idol” where he progressed far enough to pick up a few fans. He released his first single in 2004. “From there, my numbers started growing and I started getting fans,” he says.

Since then, he’s toured with Destiny’s Child, opened for Ashanti, and sold nearly a million albums.

Not all of Dario’s shows have been successful. Early in his career, he opened for rapper Fat Joe, which resulted in a chorus of boos. “That crowd did not like me at all,” he recalls.

Later this summer, Dario will appear in an episode of a new Lifetime network reality show, “Raising Asia,” which follows Asia Monet Ray from “Dance Moms.” Ray performed at Dario’s “Evolution” release party in May. Her entourage surprised even him.

“When this little 8-year-old girl came in with 22 cameras, I said, ‘Wait a minute,’” he says with a laugh.

Dario’s entourage is a little more modest, he says, but it’s enough to guarantee a good show.

For pride shows like Tacoma’s and Bellingham’s, Dario brings an arena-style atmosphere with dancers and special effects.

“It’s expensive but the audience loves it, and to me, it’s worth it,” he says.