"Liberation is a clean slate; my most expressive, vulnerable album," Mya says. "I'm putting my real experiences out there. On my first album I didn't know about love; I didn't even have a boy friend! Now what I'm bringing is definitely more realistic."
Change is good. Just ask Mya
. The Grammy-winning multi-platinum artist is at a new place in her life and is rocking a groove that's deliciously grown, sexy and secure. Playful and passionate, tough but open, the changes Mya's gone through allow her to be the woman she is, right now.
Mya's fourth cd and her Universal Motown Record's debut is Liberation and it's the sound of a singer expressing herself with no limits. From aching ballads like "Life's Too Short" to the insistent, aggressive "Still A Woman" or the bumpin' no nonsense, "I Got That" featuring the Game, Liberation is Mya, unencumbered. "Liberation is a clean slate; my most expressive, vulnerable album," Mya says. "I'm putting my real experiences out there. On my first album I didn't know about love; I didn't even have a boy friend! Now what I'm bringing is definitely more realistic."
You can feel Mya's new philosophy, her renewed confidence, her freedom and sharply honed focus throughout Liberation's taut tracks; and the exhilarating vibe kicks off with the up-tempo lead off single "Ayo." The club-banger was produced by Chris Henderson and features DC hype man DJ Kool
. "That song tickles me," Mya laughs. "It's a straight party song, but the message is clear 'if someone's doing you wrong, focus on yourself and move on. I've been there, but I don't dwell on it; life is too short."
That funky resolve also flavors "Lock U Down." Produced by Scott Storch
and co-written (like all of Liberation's songs) by Mya, "Lock U Down" is a hip-shaking mission statement. "There's definitely a harder edge this time. The lyrics are less passive and more straight-to-the point. " Equally honest is "I Am" produced by Kwame. "That was one of the first songs we recorded, it's kind of therapy. If there's a theme on the album it's self- confidence that comes from my own personal experiences."
Mya's newfound strength stems from changes professionally and personally: because in many ways she is finally free to openly speak from her heart, soul and mind. After three successful cds at Interscope Records, Mya amicably left and, in 2005 signed with Universal Motown Records, where she says, "I feel that I've found home." She's also found home within herself. Last year, Mya also moved from California, where she'd lived since 2001 and relocated back to Washington, DC, where she grew up. The decision was based on an increasing sense that the business of music had muted Mya's passion for making music. "I just knew that I had to get back to my roots and rediscover what had made me excited in the first place. I have all this creative energy and all these ideas but LA it was too impersonal of a place to develop a real creative family. So I thought, 'let me go back to DC; get creative and do what I love to do.'"
With that goal in mind Mya bought a house, enlisted her brother to build a studio, and began experimenting; laying down rudimentary tracks and learning how to engineer. By mid 2005 she'd put together a band and took them to the Caribbean and Africa to perform her hits and new material. "We had a great time. I was working with local, very talented people. Now I have a real team; crew, dancers, a band. DC hasn't really blown up like Atlanta, NYC or Miami. There's no real scene here but so much talent. My goal is to bring more recognition to my city that's so rich in culture."
Her drive didn't stop there. A long time advocate for young women and life long dancer and dance teacher, Mya established the Mya Arts Foundation, dedicated to providing the arts to DC's youth. Along with spearheading the foundation Mya taught dance; something she hadn't done since was 15.
In the midst of moving back home and nurturing her creative and charitable energies, Mya's world was turned upside down when her parents, who were both actively involved in her career, split up. The fall-out from the breakup took its toll on the then teenager. "I experienced a lot of transitions going through the tug of war of the divorce and dealing with my mother's breast cancer. I've been through a lot and it's taken years to heal. But alongside the new freedom I'm experiencing with my career, I also feel personally liberated from insecurities and fears I had in the past, and I'm closer to my family than ever before."
Born in Baltimore, MD Mya became a star at the 18 with 1998's Mya. The platinum cd, yielded three top 10 singles, "It's All About Me," "Movin' On" and "My First Night With You." She continued to shine when "Ghetto Superstar" and "Take Me There" (which appeared on the Bulworth
soundtracks, respectively) also topped the charts. Mya's sophomore CD Fear of Flying
(2000) also went platinum and featured "Case of the Ex" and the "Best of Me." 2003's Moodring went gold and that same year she starred in the acclaimed film Chicago, earning the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture. Since Chicago, Mya has appeared in several movies, including Havana Nights
and Shall We Dance
and is currently shooting Cover, directed by Bill Duke. She also just signed with the Ford Modeling Agency. Says Mya of her new creative outlet, "I'm just getting started in acting and I'm taking the time to study and learn enjoy it and be true to the craft."
And you can hear that throughout Liberation's pulsating tracks that Mya's back and ready to work. Asked about the album's message and Mya answers," I started out in the industry as a young girl trying to find her way. I've definitely experienced my share of struggles and pain, but most of my experiences have taught me something great. The CD takes you on a journey of just that; it's a guide to why I'm liberated and how I got there."
Liberation is a whole new beginning.
Listen to "Ayo," from Mya's upcoming album, "Liberation;" due in stores November 14:
| Real Audio
- Check out our Mya photo gallery