Review & Press Interview: 25 Years of ‘Mýa’ by Mýa

25 years ago, on the 20 of April in 1998, Mya unveiled her self-titled debut album. She was still a teenager then, and to her, the album was the entrance into a complicated, unknown world called the music business. She was terrified but courageous. She had fire and rebellion in her eyes, but she showed up to every challenge and obstacles standing in her way. Little did she knew before the album came out that it would then blow up to becoming a global phenomenon. Mya went double platinum, launching hit singles such as “It’s All About Me,” “Movin’ On” and “My First Night With You,” and marked the beginning of a long-celebrated career for its creator. 25 years later, people regard her debut album as a certified classic, what Vibe touted as “One of the Definitive R&B Albums of its era.”

Since the debut album, Mya went on becoming a Grammy Award winning entertainer and globally celebrated singer, songwriter, producer, actress, dancer, choreographer, model, philanthropist, activist, and entrepreneur. The beloved and respected artist shares many life lessons she had learned along the way of her success. Talking about longevity and paving paths, Mya emphasized the power of passion and dedication. She encourages young artists to follow their joy and put in the hard work. In the end, “there no shortcut in any industry.” Recalling her experience working on her debut album as a teenager, Mya admitted that it had been a very overwhelming walking into a new territory. With so much going on in her personal life and being exposed to so many different things and under pressure, she was most proud of herself for holding on and not “throwing in the towel.” Her success didn’t come easily, and though it may look all shiny and bright on the outside, she earned it the hard way.

“Never throwing in the towel whether things are overwhelming or maybe just too much for me to process. Keeping it going, holding onto faith and always tapping into what makes you fallen in love with the art form in the first place, and grasping, holding onto that—that’s what I’m most proud of in the journey and through that very very first album, where I walked into a new territory and knew absolutely nothing,” said Mya.

Mya is Mya’s legacy. She experimented and found a new sound in R&B, producing a collection of contemporary urban soul richer than most records found in the late ‘90s. With artist sensibility, she addressed issues concerning women without spelling cuss words. Mya is universal sounding with sass and edge. It adds a unique cultural importance to the ever-changing music landscape and remains revenant till this day.

Written by Katrina Yang

Press Q&A with Mýa

Rising Artists Blog: What is the one thing that makes you most proud of from your debut album?

Mýa: The most proud thing from the debut album—I think just being so young and maintaining my composure through uncertainty. Just being very green in a brand new environment with so many different people all the time, under pressure. Holding on and putting my best foot forward, knowing that I have some work to do in some areas, but not beating myself up. I’m very proud of the slow journey and taking my time and considering family. There were so much going on in my personal life, but I love music and I held onto the joy and core of music for my entire career. Any changes I think can be difficult for young people, but just proud of nothing ever coming between myself and my love for music. I think many different devastation can happen that cause people to quit. Never throwing in the towel whether things are overwhelming or maybe just too much for me to process. Keeping it going, holding onto faith and always tapping into what makes you fallen in love with the art form in the first place, and grasping, holding onto that—that’s what I’m most proud of in the journey and through that very very first album, where I walked into a new territory and knew absolutely nothing. It was a very very awkward stage for me, as a teenager.

All of the Above Podcast: What would you say as an entertainer is the key of maintaining longevity and a career in an industry that’s constantly evolving?

Mýa: I do know that artists are individuals and everyone is different. I think when you determined that longevity is what you want, you can pace yourself of course, along the way when you decide that’s something you’d like to do for the rest of your life. I think you find a way. And there are many different paths to take. But I believe, first of all, following your joy. Showing up to do the work. There’s no shortcut in any industry. I believe the pure love and investment of your craft and working on your craft allows you to wake up everyday with enthusiasm. Putting your best foot forward, doing the work, which I believe and I’ve been a witness to, it leads to opportunity which then leads to more opportunities, and it’s something that’s very addictive when you’re following your joy. So magical things happen in that space. So I would say whatever that is that anyone would like to pursue, to follow that joy, because if you can do it for free, and you will be doing it for free for quite a very long time before you actually see the return of investment or finances coming in that enables you to go for length, for years.

Q: What is the biggest advice you’d like to pass on to new artists today?

Mýa: I’ve definitely learned many lessons along the way. And I’ve learned to take the wheel of empowerment if you want anything to happen. There are so many different resources nowadays you can use to make things happen for yourself. Whether is the power of social media or meeting people online to build your team virtually, just researching information on which positions exist in the entertainment businesses. And AI technology is amazing—just to do simply research in a click of a button to find out what it is all about and that applies to all other industries. So, I’d say some of the advice specifically for the entertainment and music business is to educate yourself, regarding contrasts, and ask questions. Donald Passman is an expert and an author. There are books of his my mother has read everything you need to know about the music industry. Of course the industry is changing, but those are very helpful, which explains what managers do, what publicists do, what agents do. What the standard rates are. What royalties are. What publishing is. Just sort of wrap your brain around a lot of constant existing factors regarding your art being released into the world. Which is the business of music. We can make music all day long. Copyright is important, publishing is very important, tracking sells and royalties and mechanicals. I think it can be nerve-wrecking for an artist, but it can also be very empowering eventually to be well informed.

Sicarah: If you could speak to twenty-year-old Mya, what advice would you give her?

Mýa: I was very busy, I would definitely say lean on your faith, hold on. You would not be throwing in the towel any time soon. That joy is a very important keyword for me, as a young adult coming into her own self in front of the world. Return to joy in times of uncertainty. You do not have to be in a race I think when you’re stepping into a business. There are a lot of pressure. And sort of digesting that you are a brand, you are a product, and have to be a degree of separation, to not take things personally. Criticism is the very key. Because you have a team working for you. You have so many different component to make one situation work. I think understand everyone’s position and the aspect of them being a key player and essential to your success is asking question and not being afraid to ask questions, which leads me to another germ. Remaining a student for the rest of your life. Just the basis of business. You’re learning so many different things in so many different arenas that you must show up in front of one hundred present, not having a clue of what you’re doing. Enjoying is the key. No pain no gain, but if it’s not joyful, it’s not worth it. Physically, is all a blessing, so gratitude is a key as well. It’s a juggling. I believe in taking your time.

The Rap Hotline: You paved the way for creating a new sound in R&B. What advice would you give for upcoming artists trying to create new sounds in their genres?

Mýa: I would say find your team. That sort of takes practice, experimentation and reaching out to certain producers unless you’re one yourself. When I first started, I was with Haq Islam that I was assigned to. It was sort of labeled as a music label, but we are really a production house with our in-house producers. There was a sense of family. Figure out where my magical tone is. For my age at my time, I was recording my very first album. The themes and topics that young girls of that age could relate to. In the genre that complemented some of the vocal abilities I had. It was an experimentation process. You find it when you find it, and you know it when you find it.

URBNVIEW: Do you see anyone in R&B at the moment, who reminds you of yourself when you first entered the scene?

Mýa: I’m very open-minded when it comes to artists. I don’t really insert myself into other people’s art form and just deem I am an influence. They may not a clue of who I am. I’m very proud of any young people who just decide to go for it and step into a beast of a world. And express themselves, whether revel, rebellious or discussing their pain, experimenting with fun. I love it all. I don’t take credit for that and I also don’t insert myself. I love to see people be themselves.







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