Mýa, the R&B legend and multi-faceted entertainer has recently celebrated 25 years in the entertainment industry and her debut album Mýa, in honor of this milestone she released Mýa (Deluxe) last month. Her musical journey began in 1998 at only 20 years old she released her self-titled debut album, which went double platinum and produced hit singles. 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 Luhrman's "Moulin Rouge." The song became the most successful airplay-only single in history and won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration. Today, the track has amassed over 350 million streams. Mýa’s other notable musical collaborators include Jay-Z, Baby Face, David Foster, Wyclef Jean, Sean Paul, Swizz Beatz, and many more. 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. I had the incredible opportunity to attend a press conference hosted by UMG's creative solutions team, listening in on amazing conversation and ask her some questions directly.
What is the key to maintaining longevity in a career in an industry that’s constantly evolving?
Mýa: Artists are individuals and everyone is different, and I think when you determine that longevity is what you want you can brace yourself along the way that it’s something you’d like to do for the rest of your life. I think you find a way. There are many different paths to take and I think first of all, I believe in first of all following your joy, showing up to do the work, there are no shortcuts in any industry, but I believe that pure love and investment of your craft and into your craft allows you to wake up everyday with enthusiasm, to put your best foot forward doing the work. Which I believe and have been witness to, it leads to opportunity which leads to more opportunity. It’s something that’s very addictive when you actually follow your joy. Some magical things happen in that space so I’d say, whatever it is that anyone would love 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 long time, before you actually see the return of investment or any finances coming in. That enables you to go for lengths and years (following your joy), and I believe the hustle saying It's not a sprint it's a marathon, and that applies to life itself.
Due to her long career of having so many successful collaborations, I asked, what has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned throughout those experiences?
Mýa: Oh wow, through collaboration. Well, I think I have learned from the viewers and the listeners to never box anyone in. We are all multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, and do not box myself in either or other artists. So I love fusion of genres and energies. It's this synergy that’s captured on wax- once upon a time it used to be called wax [laughs] In my day we had cassettes,vinyl and cd’s. And now it’s all digital and streaming for the most part which is awesome to hear! But it’s a lesson when artists come together to different parts of the world or even two different genres per say it takes me back to that unity that is the universal language and it speaks in volume that people feel emotion, people feel harmony, people feel melody, rhythm and all over the world. And never underestimate the listener, because I listen to rock, I listen to rap, country, trap, R&B, jazz and classical, I listen to so many different genres. I’m a melting pot, influenced by so many things that I have been exposed to or that I’m tuning into. And I think we are all the same so to never limit yourself, and to never limit others or your audience.
When asked about what she would say to her 20 year old self, she said “return to joy in moments of uncertainty and take your time, criticism is key, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and remain a student for the rest of your life, learning so many different things. No pain no gain, but if it's not joyful it's not worth it. Put in the work and embrace the grind. It can get very taxing but it's a blessing, gratitude is key. It's a game of jugging physically, mentally, creating balance in how you process things when you're very green stepping into new territory. I believe in taking my time. I have watched a lot of young artists fighting for adulthood and the respect of an adult but not being well versed in their craft or understanding the mechanics of a team."
With celebrating 25 years, what makes you most proud about your debut album?
Mýa: I think just being so young, and maintaining my composure throughout uncertainty, through being very green in a brand new environment. With so many different people all of the time, under pressure, holding on putting my best foot forward knowing I have some work to do in some areas but also not beating myself up. I’m very proud of the slow journey, and taking my time, considering family. There was so much going on in my personal life. But I love music and I held onto the joy and the core of music for my entire career. I think changes can be difficult for young people, but I'm just proud of nothing ever coming between myself and my love for music. I think that many different devastations can happen that cause people to quit. So never throwing in the towel when things are overwhelming, maybe too much for me to process, keeping going, holding onto faith and always tapping into what made you fall in love with the art form in the first place and grasping and holding onto that. That’s what I'm most proud of in the journey and through that very first album where I kind of walked into some new territory knowing absolutely nothing [laughing] outside of the stage, you know, a very awkward stage for me as a teenager. And definitely just going for it and falling on your face a couple times! And embarrassing yourself a couple times, i’m most proud of those moments too cause that’s where you learn.
Mýa is truly the definition of a legend and icon within multiple industries. Speaking with her reflecting on her career and journey from the beginning was truly an honor and I think everyone who mets her leaves the conversation with more wisdom as she’s so wise and genuine. You can stream Mýa (deluxe) on all streaming platforms and keep up with what Mýa’s up to on instagram.