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Mýa talks 'Sweet XVI,' respect in relationships, and inspiring women

Mýa "Sweet XVI"
Mýa "Sweet XVI"
Mya, Inc.

R&B singer Mýa recently released her second EP this year, “Sweet XVI,” commemorating the 16th anniversary of the release of her eponymous album.

“Sweet XVI” follows the Valentine’s Day release of the sultry “With Love” EP, and is a sexy blend of dance tracks (“Cherry Lips”), synth-heavy, R&B/pop tracks (“Same Page,” “Right Now”), bass-driven, enticing numbers (“M-O-N-E-Y” ), and empowering, sing-a-long tracks that showcase the singer’s vocal skills (“Unbreakable,” “Super Woman”).

Mýa Harrison is a Grammy Award- winning, singer-songwriter, dancer, actress, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. She was signed to Interscope Records at the age of 16, and her debut album, “Mýa,” went platinum. After that incredible start, the now 34-year old has released a total of eight albums, appeared on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” founded her own record label, Planet 9, and has been featured in over a dozen movies and television shows.

In an exclusive interview, I talked to Mýa about her fans, non-profit foundation, relationships, and when we can expect a full-length album.

BROWNIE MARIE: “Sweet XVI” was released on April 21, I know there were a lot of pre-orders as well, what has the response been so far?

MÝA: The response to “Sweet XVI” has been incredible. It’s a fan compilation so, as requested, after the “With Love” release, I’m giving them something more uptempo. I think they’re used to me dancing. So, I turned it up a little bit for the springtime. It’s been quite receptive, and there are a couple of favorites.

What are some fan favorites?

The fan favorite right now is “Same Page” and the other one is “M-O-N-E-Y.” Everything else has been kind of mixed, but those are the two top favorites based on just Twitter so far.

I took a listen and I really like “Super Woman.” That’s my favorite.

That’s my favorite! (Laughs)

“Super Woman” kind of reminded me of the song “Like a Woman” from the “With Love” EP—that theme of being “more than a pretty face,” and being loved and appreciated more than just for physical or superficial reasons. That seems to be a recurring theme... is that a recurring issue in your personal relationships?

“Like a Woman” addresses a personal side of me... making sure that any man that approaches me personally and would like to entertain any type of partnership understands that there are certain approaches that will project whether or not you respect a woman, or look at her like a physical object. So if you’re interested in getting to know me, then we need to grow up and mature a little bit, and understand that I’m a person, I’m a soul.

For a lot of guys, and for a lot of younger guys I’m going to say... sometimes they have a one-track mind. You’ve got to set the record straight as an individual, a human, or a female. And guys must feel the same too, if they’re interested in getting to know somebody or have someone know them beyond surface. So that was a personal situation. And I think everyone deals with those issues because temptation is crazy out here! (Laughs)

In the process of wanting to be accepted and loved, we need to preserve ourselves and start the right way, and refrain from focusing on these things that will deteriorate over time.

In “Super Woman,” I address it on a more business level of how people might approach me or comments that might have been made before. There’s more than what you see here.... come and get to know me... this is how I get down, this is what I do. I’m about my business. I run my own business; I run my own ship.

It’s an inspirational message for women because I know that, on many occasions, we are objectified or underestimated. There are mothers out here holding it down... two parents in the home, one parent in the home... it is a job. There are women in school right now... there are all kinds of women in the world doing incredible things, and they should be acknowledged and given credit. So [“Super Woman”] is a ladies’ anthem on the deeper side of things that addresses the outside world as it pertains to classifying or defining who an individual is based off of one thing. We’re so many things as individuals.

Are you still involved with [Washington D.C. youth education organization] The Mýa Arts & Tech Foundation?

Right now we’re entertaining some re-staffing as well as acquiring more board members to make sure we expand the program. We’re in that process right now. Obviously funding has been cut from a lot of schools regarding art, so that gets a little difficult. Now all of the weight will fall on Mýa to make sure that this summer program happens financially. So right now we’re on hold, but we are working on other things and resources to help us keep this operative and expand it every year.

I know you have a huge fan base in Japan; you get lots of love out there. How were you able to build that fan base?

That’s so strange how it happened. Japan is always very receptive to the United States, and when I went over there for the first time, I realized that they follow urban culture as well as the culture in the Caribbean. Dancehall is huge for the club scene in Japan, as well as reggae too, but mostly dancehall, and I was surprised to learn that.

I had my fourth album [“Liberation”] leaked out there by accident... it came out prematurely. It leaked everywhere else in 2007 because it was not pulled back from the Japan territory. From that opportunity there was a label that actually liked the album at the time, and asked me if I’d like to do business with their label for a one territory release. That was in 2008. So I said ‘Sure! I’ll try being an independent artist.’ We started putting out product, just in Japan, and from those experiences I learned how to become an executive producer on a couple of projects as a label myself, and also logistics on the business side.

You released “With Love” back in February, and you just released “Sweet XVI.” Do you still plan to drop a new album later this year?

I’m working on the ninth studio album, but to hold fans over with these appetizers I’m going to combine both EP's as part of a physical CD, because they do want that. And, obviously, on all tour stops I’ll sell the CD as merchandise. It will also be available for worldwide shipping—as the “K.I.S.S.” album is and “Beauty & the Streets” project—on MyaMya.com inside of the Music Shop. I’ll have some new songs on there as well, so it will be 12-14 songs on there, maximum. But it will be a physical CD, and the full versions of these songs will appear on this eighth studio album, while I’m working on the ninth.

What would you like to say to your fans?

I would love to say thank you all so much for being my motivation and inspiration, and keeping me going, as well as riding with me for the last 16 years. I appreciate the love and support. Continued blessings, and let’s continue to do this together.

@MissMya on Twitter, @KissMya on Instagram, and MyaMya.com is my website.

"Sweet XVI" is available NOW on iTunes and Amazon!