MYA: Learning To Fly
It's been a mere two years since she made a name for herself, and she only has one LP under her belt, but 20-year-old Maryland native Mya is poised to shake up the R&B world once again.
During her two years away, Mya's managed to tour with some of the biggest names in the business, both on the Smokin' Grooves tour as well as with Lilith Fair. All the while, she weaned herself away from the security of her teenage world... and prepared for her return to the studio.
She's already back on our airwaves with 'Best Of Me,' her steamy duet with Jadakiss of The LOX, and it's just the first salvo we can expect from her second full-length release, 'Fear Of Flying,' on which she's set to prove that her first time out was no fluke. To help sign, seal, and deliver that promise, she's tapped such production mega-talent as Wyclef and Swizz Beatz of Ruff Ryders for the album, which is due out on April 25.
All grown up now (and not at all afraid to speak her mind), she still displays some of the old 'It's All About Me' attitude that first got her noticed back in '98. But when MTV News's Meridith Gottlieb sat down and caught up with Mya recently, it was clear that the young woman had a few other topics on her mind as well, such as the straight-up message of her new single, how she developed her writing skills on the Lilith Fair, and her good works to help young women improve their self-esteem.
Take a look at her now...
MTV: How much you have grown up between your last record and the new release?
Mya: I'm not a teenager anymore. I'm away from my parents, and I'm on the road by myself, and I make a lot of my own decisions.
MTV: Do you think that the world you work in kind of pushes you into maturity a little faster?
M: I think the entertainment business in general molds people into maturity faster than college or high school. Of course, the business has its ups and downs but on the whole I couldn't be any happier, because this is what I love to do.
MTV: What about the business totally surprised you?
M: Maybe not getting what you earn or deserve as far as money goes. But I wasn't shocked, you know. I had people in my ear all the time telling me it's really hard, it's really shady, there are vultures and sharks out there in the ocean waiting to get you. But relationships come and go so quickly in the business, and it's hard to find the right people that click with you, and keep them as a team.
MTV: Tell me about working with Wyclef?
M: I first met Wyclef when we did the song 'Ghetto Supastar' right here in New York, and I toured with him on Smokin' Grooves in '98. He treated me like a little sister. And I also performed two years ago at his benefit concert in Miami, and I've worked with him on this album. He's there 24-7 in the studio with you, and he loves creative input, he's willing to change things. He's not out for a buck; he's there to bring out the best in the artist. He's a wonderful musician, plays all kinds of instruments that people don't even know about, and he's nice to be around. He's just a great person, and he takes risks.
MTV: Who are some of the other people you worked with?
M: Swizz Beatz is a hip-hop producer and this is his first R&B song, and I feel really blessed to work with him. He looks exactly like my brother, and that's scary because my brother and I, you know, have fights on the side. But Swizz and I get along perfectly. Anyway, he has the first single on my album, called 'Best Of Me.'
MTV: I remember how sexy the video was when it premiered on 'TRL.'
M: Yeah, it's real. It's about getting caught in situations, the heat of the moment, and it's all very seductive, but my conscience is telling me, 'You better watch out, Mya, because this is feeling really good to you now, but after the physical part is over how will you feel emotionally?' So that's what the song deals with. I can't let it happen, I can't let it happen, because I don't know the consequences. Anything can happen.
MTV: I think every single female knows what you're talking about.
M: There's nothing wrong with being a female and wanting to be sexual or physical, that's perfectly normal, but the things that we have to deal with after the fact is stuff we should really sometimes think about before we let it all happen.
MTV: Is that a concern for you with female fans, being a strong woman, making your own decisions?
M: I do feel committed to speak to young kids, and especially females, because they're more affected with low self-esteem these days. I'm involved in a program called 'Helping Girls Become Strong Women,' and every year we have a symposium at a college and we speak to 200 girls and their mentors about issues that we ourselves dealt with. When I say we, I mean a panel of advisory board members like [Olympic athlete] Jackie Joyner-Kersee, [WNBA star] Sheryl Swoopes, people like that. They all took part in this program, and we talk about dealing with stress, developing healthy relationships, that sort of thing. The first year, I read from my diary when I was in seventh grade, and there was a lot of funny stuff in there to me now, but back then it was really serious as far as not having a boyfriend, feeling dumb in class, not feeling pretty, not having nice clothes, my mother shopping at the thrift store. We accomplish a lot at these meetings, and I think the girls get a lot from them, seeing celebrities deal with low self-esteem issues, and all of us letting them know that things do get better.
MTV: This time around, on this album, there's more of your writing, and just more of you getting involved in the whole thing. Is this a natural progression for you?
M: We actually recorded a lot of songs for this album, and only fourteen made it, but I was just really creative when I was on tour. I got inspired during Lilith Fair, and I got to see some things that I wanted to write about. It just kind of happened. I knew what I wanted to say, and I know what works for me onstage and what I believe in. I'm stronger in how I feel, and I think that came across.
MTV: What do you think you're going to do with the materials that didn't make it onto this record?
M: Submit it to other artists, and maybe use it on b-sides of singles or overseas. And definitely when I'm performing.
MTV: When do you think you'll get on the road again?
M: This summer, hopefully. I may be doing Smokin' Grooves again, which I'm excited about.
MTV: How was that whole Lilith Fair experience?
M: It was really comfortable. People got up in their jeans and T-shirts and flip-flops and stuff. It was a really laid-back tour, like a cookout. Very inspirational, and embracing. All the artists were playing onstage together, writing songs together. It was something that I had never experienced before as a musician, and I wish I could see more of that on the R&B side, you know, artists collaborating. But I took guitar lessons from one of the band members on the road with me, and everyone was very sisterly. I never had a sister in my family. So I think I needed that.
MTV: And touring with Sarah McLachlan...
M: Yeah, she's really together. A really nice person.
MTV: Because it's her tour, she picks who she likes to be on it. She had to say to herself, 'I like Mya's music, I want her on my tour.' That must be a compliment.
M: I was very intimidated by Sarah, although she's really sweet. But she's just so together. I asked her about that, you know. She said it's about relationships, trying to find the right people, and her tour was just so organized: no fighting, no gunshots, no drugs, no alcohol. It was really nice just to hear different types of music and get a good response from people that didn't know my music. I was really nervous about getting involved, but also they had breast cancer research information and charity involvement. So I was really happy to be a part of the whole thing, and I learned a lot.
Article from mtv.com, pics from myspareroom.com/mya/main.htmhttp://www.myspareroom.com/mya/main.htm [Mya Harrison] fan site
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