Mya may be available for your next special event!
It was dancing, not singing, which encouraged Mya to bloom. Born in
Baltimore, Maryland, and grew up in Washington, DC, Mya (she says she was named for Maya Angelou) was two years old when her father stood her in the Reflecting Pool between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial and she danced. She started ballet classes immediately, then tap and jazz, but lost interest when she was eight.
At 12, she found herself watching videos of her dancing and her desire suddenly rekindled. She studied tapes of Savion Glover, the tap dance prodigy now best-known for the Broadway hit "Bring In Da Noise, Bring In D Funk," until she learned his routines and then joined
the group T.W.A. (Tappers With Attitude). She went solo before heading to New York to study with Glover in a residency with the famed Dance Theater of Harlem. Soon after. She earned a reputation for improvisation and an impressed Glover gave her a solo spot during a Kennedy Center performance. Mya has subsequently appeared on BET's "Teen Summit" and has taught dance to children ever since she herself was 14: "I teach them there's no limit to their dreams."
She has also taken violin lessons since the fourth grade, and has begun to learn to play the drums. Singing, however, was a different story. "The first time I went to my grandmother's church it was the night before Easter. I was eight and my father was rehearsing to sing 'I Wanna Thank You God' the next day. I really wanted to get up and sing, too, so I learned the song by myself that night. But I was too shy to say anything." The same was true throughout her school years, whether it was talent shows or Christmas pageants. "I really wanted to audition but I never had the guts to just go ahead and do it. I don't want to do
anything on stage unless I'm good. One day, I asked my mom, 'Can you listen to me sing and tell me if I can. My father didn't find out I
could sing until I was 14."
Her father performed in R&B bands, her mother was an accountant, as Mya grew up in suburban Maryland the oldest of three children and the only girl. Her strict upbringing emphasized the value of school and working hard to get good grades. But when her father finally heard her sing, he had her record a couple of demo tapes and took them to a club where he was playing. There he met Haqq Islam, President and CEO of University Music. Islam listened to the tapes and agreed to come to Mya's home, where she sang him two
En Vogue songs.
"That the head of a record label would take enough interest to come to my living room to hear me sing," says Mya, who had just graduated from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt at the age of 16, "was incredible. I was tense
at first but once I was singing, I relaxed. I was determined, and now when I'm determined to do something, I do it."
Though signed to a deal, she later enrolled in the University of Maryland in speech communications. But preparations for the album were taking too much of her time and she left after one semester. "I always had the feeling I'd be in the business. It's what I've always loved. It's not about being a star. I'd still be singing, dancing, writing songs, if this had never happened. Being around the entertainment business, I've learned not to say 'I'm all that.' You take your talent and do your best and give it to people. I just want to make people, and myself, happy. I never dreamed of a record deal, especially living in the DC area which is not big in the record business."
Nor is nearby Baltimore. But little did Mya realize when she first met Baltimore natives
Dru Hill at a GRAMMY party in New York in 1996, before their first album was released, that they'd be so instrumental in her career. "It's great being around them because they bring a really creative atmosphere. That gives me something to live up to."
Most important to her for her debut album was, she says, "that I wanted to sound different musically and vocally. I want to be myself, not like anyone else. It was also important that the songs mean something, no bubblegum songs, but songs that relate and reach and bring people together. It's a people thing, not male or female, not one race, but what everyone can relate to.
Mya is many things singer, dancer, songwriter, choreographer (including her "It's All About Me" video), even clothes designer (the provocative red outfit she wears in the video is hers) and artist. "In school, I'd draw for people and get paid $5 for each one. But the most fun was just seeing their reactions to what I created for them. I love that."
Mya admits that, among the many things she is, she's also a bit of a tomboy. "Guys will just go out and do something. Females will talk about it a lot. I don't care if I break a nail. You have to be aggressive to get the same respect as the guys."
She's the girl you knew had the talent if she would only step on the stage or behind a microphone. Now, Mya has.
Her infectious debut CD, "Mya," scored three top 10 singles, "It's All About Me," "Movin' On" and "My First Night With You." The spotlight continued to shine on Mya when "Ghetto Supastar" (from
the Bulworth soundtrack) became a huge hit, as did "Take Me There" from the Rugrats soundtrack.
"Fear of Flying" found Mya moving towards a more mature sound. The album yielded the hits "Case of the Ex," "The Best of Me" and "Free." Mya supported the album with a rigorous touring schedule, bringing her dynamic fusion of dance with live vocals to audiences internationally.
Mya's appeal isn't limited to music. She was featured in several ad campaigns and starred in a successful spot for Coke. Mya also takes time to give back, and in particular is outspoken about teen issues. She has served in past years on the
advisory board of the Secret to Self Esteem program (an alliance between the Partnership of
Women's Health and Secret antiperspirant), dedicated to helping girls become strong women.
Hit songs include --
- Case of the Ex
- It's All About Me
- Movin' On
- My Love Is Like...Wo
- My First Night With You
- The Best of Me
- Lady Marmalade
Mya may be available for your next special event!
.Contemporary R&B. / ContemporaryR&B
.Urban. / xUrban
.Pop. / xPop
x90s, x00s, x10s
Born: ..in Maryland / born nMaryland
Born: ..in Baltimore area / born
Born: ..in Greenbelt / born GreenbeltMD
Born: Oct 10, 1979
Raised: ..in Maryland / nMaryland
Based: ..in US
Based: ..in Washington, DC area / based WashingtonDC
Italian-American Musical Artists, ItalianAmerican