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MYA on 25 years since her debut albumMYA

press conference

WORDS by Tessa Swantek  TALENTMYA  PR°1824 

Mýa talks about joy like a lover people often neglect - one that needs to be protected, followed, held, and returned to at the end of each day. The love is youthful and simple, and as she sits on Zoom with several publications 25 years after the release of her self-titled debut album, her relationship with joy is a decades-long love story worth telling. Joy had been with her as she watched live bands her Musician dad brought to their living room as a child, as her parents’ vinyl collection spun on the record player, as she watched Gregory Hines’ metal taps strike a fiery rhythm on the floor, as she sat on the train to Philly writing love letters to her joy, and as she played in the recording studio. Mýa says, “Being a child with a sense of wonder and excitement will lead to longevity - go there and protect that space that much more.”

When Mýa speaks, I am reminded of a part of a poem called "Moments" by Lang Leav; "That's the tragedy of growing up—knowing you'll run out of feeling something new for the first time." In music, Mýa has found a space that she calls a “playground,” one in which she doesn’t run out of feeling something new. She shares, “I’m just beginning my next phase and it feels like the beginning every time.” When asked if her first album encapsulates her as an artist and person she says, “Artists are all over the place. In my first album, I compartmentalized who Mya was at the time. I couldn’t get everything out on that one introduction. There’s so much more. My entire catalog of twelve or thirteen projects doesn’t even encompass who I am as a complete artist or person.” So while it’s been 25 years since her debut album, she knows there’s so much more left to show and many more ways to evolve. She shares, “25 years ago seems like a drop in the bucket to me. There’s so much more work and evolution for me personally.” 

She continues, “I’ve learned to never box anyone in or myself. We are all multi-dimensional. It speaks in volume that people feel harmony, melody, emotion, and rhythm all over the world. Never underestimate the listener. I’m a melting pot of so many things I’ve been influenced by, and I think we’re all the same. Never limit yourself and your audience.” Throughout her career so far, she certainly doesn’t box herself in. In 2001, Mýa collaborated with Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, P!nk, and Missy Elliott on a cover of LaBelle's "Lady Marmalade," which was featured in Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge. The song became the most successful airplay-only single in history and won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration. From 2004-2007, Mýa brought her talents to the film and gaming worlds. She released a number of projects, including recording the theme songs for Disney’s Atlantis with Diane Warren and EA’s James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing video game in which she also voiced a character. Her performance in Rob Marshall’s Academy Award Winning film Chicago also earned Mýa a Screen Actors Guild award. 

While she has received several critical accolades, she emphasized that she was never in music for money, despite making an effort alongside her mom to understand the money. When asked what advice she would give to upcoming artists, she says, “Always remain a student. My advice is to educate yourself regarding contracts and ask questions. Donald Passman is an expert whose books my mother has read and those books are very helpful. Have a team that is well-versed to protect your joy.” So even though Mýa sustains a childlike spirit, she is a fierce advocate for taking time to educate yourself and those around you. The playground that is music, for her, has been carefully constructed through trust and time. When asked what advice she would give to her twenty year old self, she says, “I believe in taking my time. I watched a lot of young artists go through the strain of fighting for the respect of an adult, but not understanding the mechanics of a team or a machine.” Fortunately, when Mýa started, she was with a production camp who she calls a “family.” She shares, “Through trial and error, we cut songs to figure out my magic tone that would grab people. Being seventeen when I was recording my first album, it was an experimentation process. It was a playground where we were free to discuss ideas so it would work.”

“Being a child with a sense of wonder and excitement will lead to longevity - go there and protect that space that much more.”


Mýa’s decision to follow her joy has been a steadfast one, despite experiencing others' attempts at stealing it. She openly shares, “Early in my childhood and throughout high school, I faced a lot of bullying so I understand how it felt to be beat down verbally. Processing that is difficult. Getting through it shapes character but also makes you empathetic. I hold on to those moments since I know there is a longing to be accepted, so I want to be compassionate to people. I know the dangerous places we can go in our minds. It’s trained me to have thick skin so I’m very thankful, but a lot of people don’t make it. So I think it’s important to share experiences. Art saves lives and being an Executive Director at my foundation [Mya Arts & Tech Foundation], and communicating without judgment, is a big part of my future. One of my upcoming albums is engulfed in that space. At all ages, we feel it. Adults often feel that way. Even through glitz and the glam, I relate to many of us. I journal and go on retreats to further my education in that area.” She seeks to encourage others to follow their joy in her philanthropic work, but also in her music. According to societal standards of fame, success, and importance, Mýa has become someone, however it is important for her to emphasize that everyone waking up with breath in their lungs each day is already a someone who doesn’t have to be anything more.

She says, “Each day I start with gratitude just for existence and breath in my body. We have this perception of being something greater than what we already are, but what we are is the greatest thing. We have life in our bodies and another day.” This spirit and sense of gratitude has always flowed into her dancing. Dancing has long been a staple of her life and career, as she says, “There’s something about RHYTHM that’s always been a driving force in my life.” It is also a driving force in her upcoming projects, as she shares, “We have some magic in the dance space coming soon that I surprised myself on. Dance is cultural all over the world. Those are the constants I see. There’s always joy and happiness and I think that’s beautiful. It’s time for me to turn up with dancing on social media - I still got it!” 

While the conversation with Mýa is mostly focused in the past, she has a particular excitement about the future. Her next album is complete and possibilities feel endless. She looks to the future like a child, with eyes wide, joy’s warm palm laying in hers.

"I think it’s important to share experiences. Art saves lives. Communicating without judgment is a big part of my future. One of my upcoming albums is engulfed in that space."


Follow Mýa Here: 

Instagram | Twitter | Spotify

Stream Mýa's Deluxe here

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