In 2020, Virginia policeman, Mervin Mayo, became a viral sensation when his performance of a gospel song garnered over a million Facebook views. The surprise feat also earned him coverage on CNN’s Headline News channel. Now, Mayo has released his first Tyscot Records single, “The Best Friend,” which is available on all major digital platforms: https://smarturl.it/xbxbyu
In a time when many law enforcement officers are vilified for the bad actions of a few rogue cops, Mayo is one of the good guys. He grew up in Richmond’s tough Creighton Court housing projects. “My dad was in and out of jail most of my life,” he recalls. I don’t think he ever had a job. He did drugs [heroin] his whole life. Everybody on my dad’s side – all of them were on drugs. There was a lot of drugs and a lot of killing around me. I could be out sitting on the porch, and somebody was just shot down the street. I just thought that was normal. When I look back, I grew up in the Wild Wild, West, but I didn’t know it was.”
A now-retired police officer, Curtis Simmons, became a role model to Mayo and other kids in the neighborhood during his youth. “There was an organization called the Police Athletic League,” he recalls. “They would pick people up from the neighborhood and take us to basketball games, trips outside of the neighborhood. Curtis kept me out of trouble. He spent a lot of time with me, and I said if I ever become a police officer, I want to do for others what he did for me.”
After some time as a forklift driver, Mayo finally joined the police department in 2005. He faced almost every imaginable hazard. “I even had a guy pull a pitchfork on me,” he recalls. “I worked the streets 3 years and then I applied to work with the youth in the schools. It‘s not a school for bad kids but a school for kids who made bad decisions. They can relate to me because I’ve been where they are. I want to stop that school-to-prison pipeline. I’m here to make things better.”
Aside from mentoring kids, Mayo’s other passion has always been music. He grew up singing in church and later with an R&B group, CHARM (Cool, Handsome, Attractive, Romantic, Men) circa 1991-1997. Later, he formed the gospel group, CHANGED, which performed on bills with some of gospel’s biggest names such as Yolanda Adams and Rance Allen. In 2020, he was at his church singing Marvin Sapp’s “The Best in Me” and posted it on Facebook. In days, the video had gone viral, and the post eventually garnered a million views. As a result, an executive from Tyscot Records spotted him and signed him to a recording deal.
Mayo’s first single for the recording label, “The Best Friend,” is a simple piano ballad about Jesus being man’s best friend. It’s the perfect showcase for his old school soul vocals which slide from husky baritone growls to sweet falsetto sighs. It should serve as a warm, comforting introduction of Mayo to the gospel world and the foundation for a long career ahead.
Not only can Jesus be man’s best friend, but Mayo feels police can be man’s best friend too. “People want to think police are trigger happy,” explains Mayo who is now a school resource officer. “ No, I think they are scared and many of them are not trained enough. Police just want to make it home. The last thing a police officer wants to do is shoot somebody because if you shoot somebody your career is done for ever. Even if they don’t fire you or suspend you, you don’t work at full pay. Mentally, you’re messed up. And you’re gonna lose everything. That’s not what the average policeman wants. They just want to make it home.”