There was a time last year when up-and-coming R&B singer Dario was ready to pack his bags and move back home to Tucson.
"I was at my lowest. I was done. I was ready to give it up," he said.
Three weeks before he was to leave, he got a meeting with Capitol Records. They liked him, he said, and wanted to work with him.
But he wasn't sure he was ready for the creative confines of a major label. So he pitched instead a partnership: he would put out his fourth album, "The Upside of Down," independently with the label's help in mastering and marketing it.
"My goal with this album is to prove to them that I can sell records, that I can sell tickets, then possibly next year to sign a better deal with them," he explained. "That was the whole point of it. They did mix and master it and do all that great stuff, but it's still my independent record."
The record has sold about 100,000 copies, he said, and has taken him all over the country since he embarked on a headlining tour in June. The tour brings him home to Tucson Saturday to headline Pride in the Desert, the daylong LBGT festival at Kino Memorial Stadium.
It is his first show here in six years and the first time he's been home since he left for Los Angeles and a promising career.
"I'm excited. I haven't been home in six years," said Dario, who doesn't use his last name and will say only that he's in his 20s. "I can't wait to get home."
This homecoming is a much brighter one than he had planned a year ago.
Dario said he had abandoned his plans to become a star three years earlier after his manager took all of his money and left him high and dry in Las Vegas.
"We were at Burger King and my card wouldn't swipe for $12," he recalled.
"After I finished the tour I was like forget it, I don't want to do this anymore."
So he got a day job - three of them actually, including as a receptionist a couple days a week - and put music out of his mind.
Until that meeting with the label.
The idea that Capitol Records - a company that wanted nothing to do with him six years ago - saw potential in his talent re-energized him.
He went back into the studio to record "The Upside of Down," his first project in four years. "Fallback," the first single, is a hit on college radio in the East Coast. The song was introduced to Tucson radio this week.
Dario already is working on the followup record, getting solicitations from songwriters who want him to record their material.
"After six years, it's weird hearing myself on the radio," Dario said. "I'm on TV. I'm on the cover of magazines. It's weird because I'm this kid from Tucson, Arizona, that wanted to do this. I never actually thought I could do it. To be doing it is amazing."
Dario's tour runs through Nov. 7 before he heads to Canada and then Europe.
If you go
• What: 34th Annual Pride in the Desert, with entertainers, exhibits, a food court and interactive displays and activities.
• Featuring: Dario, God-des and She, Jimmy Roland, Corday and the Cougars, Whiskey Rodeo, Roll Acosta, Boys R Us with Human Project, Lisa Otey and Diane Van Deurzen, and Troupe Shuvani.
• When: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.
• Where: Kino Memorial Stadium, 2500 E. Ajo Way.
• Tickets: $10 in advance; $10 online; $15 at the gate.
• More: www.tucsonpride.org