To judge Mya Marie Harrison by her undeniably gorgeous surface is to underestimate the strong woman underneath. Mya, celebrated her alleged 39th birthday (October 10) this week, although the only indication of that is that she was making solo hits in the 90’s with “It’s All About Me,” “Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)” and more.
She won a Grammy in 2002 with Pink, Christina Aguilera and Lil’ Kim for their rendition of the Labelle classic “Lady Marmalade” from the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack, then came back with “My Love Is Like…Wo,” in 2003.
In 2009, she finished second on Season 9 of Dancing With The Stars.
While Mya’s mainstream visibility may have cooled since then, the Washington, D.C. native hasn’t slowed down. She was just in Dubai and Singapore, just the latest stamps on an already marked up passport.
She’s dropped several singles from her latest album T.K.O., including “Damage” and last year, she was a nominee for Best Traditional R&B Album for her indie release Smoove Jones on her label Planet 9. We caught up with Mya to find out how she does what she does and she dropped some gems that any businesswoman, aspiring artist, or music fans needs to hear.
HOW ARE YOU LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE?
I’ve taken a different route for sure. It’s the road less traveled but it brings me peace which actually affects my physical and my mental, so I feel a lot better, I do a lot better and I guess it comes across as me living my best life.
I have definitely been able to separate business and art. I fell in love with music as a child at four years old. So I stay close to that – how music has made me feel and how I feel when I’m around music.
I’ve been blessed to be able to have musicians worldwide that I collaborate with, great relationships with producers and dancers and all kind of artists that surround me with their talent and that create with me and that’s been a driving force. So I would attribute any kind of success to that.
WHAT’S ALLOWED YOU TO BE SUCCESSFUL FOR SO LONG DESPITE BEING A FEMALE IN A MALE-DOMINATED BUSINESS?
I’ve been able to navigate by taking business into my own hands. When I have to be a lawyer, I’m a lawyer. You have to budget your money and you have to cut out a lot of things you can no longer afford. Instead of paying a lawyer thousands of dollars an hour, empower yourself with new skill sets from engineering to learning equipment to produce your own music. You will go broke if you don’t learn many skill sets.
And I realize that women, especially the ones that work with me, are very punctual, very detail-oriented, and it’s always been empowering and it’s always been an advantage in my eyes. And yes, there are encounters that you might have to deal with in any work place as a woman, but when you know yourself, you can quickly handle it.
WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE MOST TO YOUR ABILITY TO OVERCOME OBSTACLES?
I’ve always had this mindset because this is how my parents raised me. My mother has always been a pit bull, not by necessarily being a college graduate, but by picking up a book to teach me what I wasn’t being taught in school. My father has always been a man and a father who instilled strength in me, because he came from the business and [knew] how treacherous it could be. So that was my upbringing.
HOW DID YOU HANDLE THE CHANGES IN YOUR CAREER?
There are mixed messages coming from the outside world. You have to do a lot to listen to your own voice. People’s definition of success is completely different from yours and you have to block out the noise from celebrity to artistry. Sometimes they clash and sometimes they intersect. I had to understand that for myself to stay sane.