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Mýa during an interview in July 2018
Mýa Marie Harrison
(1979-10-10) October 10, 1979
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Home town||Washington, D.C., U.S.|
|Also known as||My My
Mýa Marie Harrison (born October 10, 1979) is an American singer, songwriter, producer, and actress. Born into a musical family, before entering the music industry she appeared on BET's Teen Summit. Signed in 1996 with Interscope Records, she released her eponymous debut album in April 1998. A critical and commercial success, the album produced her first top ten single "It's All About Me." Subsequent singles, "Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)" and "Take Me There" continue to raise her profile and attained chart success worldwide, with the former garnering her first Grammy nomination. Fear of Flying, her sophomore album, was released in April 2000 and became a worldwide success, boosted by the success of its singles "Case of the Ex" and "Free." Harrison continue her rise to prominence in 2002, when she won her first Grammy Award in the category for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for her rendition of Labelle's 1975 hit "Lady Marmalade" alongside with Pink, Christina Aguilera and Lil' Kim.
Taking a more active role in the production of her music, Harrison released her third studio album, the eccentric Moodring, in July 2003. The album produced the single "My Love Is Like...Wo" and was certified gold by the RIAA. Following a label change and a delay in her fourth studio album, Harrison went independent and recorded two exclusive albums for the Japanese music market, Sugar & Spice (2008) and K.I.S.S. (Keep It Sexy & Simple) (2011). In between recording those two albums, she launched her own independent record label Planet 9 and competed in Dancing with the Stars – season nine; finishing in second place.
Now fully independent, Harrison continues to regularly release music. Beginning in 2014, she released a trio of R&B-rooted EPs, With Love (2014), Sweet XVI (2014), and Love Elevation Suite (2015). In 2016, Harrison released her seventh album, the Grammy nominated Smoove Jones. The follow-up, TKO (The Knock Out) arrived in April 2018 to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of her debut album.
Aside from a music career, Harrison branched out into acting; making her feature-film debut in 1999's thriller In Too Deep starring LL Cool J and Omar Epps. She continued to score supporting roles in films such as Chicago (2002), Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004), Shall We Dance? (2004), and Cursed (2005).
She has endorsed several brands such as Coca-Cola, Gap, Iceberg, Tommy Hilfiger, and Motorola. Harrison's contribution to music has earned her many accolades in the fields of pop and R&B music categories. In 2009, Billboard listed Mýa as one of their Hot 100 Artists of the 2000s; placing her in the 97th position. As of October 2009, she has sold over 3.2 million albums in the U.S. and 7 million albums worldwide.
1979–1998: Early life and career beginnings
Mýa Harrison, a native of Washington, D.C. is one of three children. Her father Sherman was a musician and singer; her mother Theresa worked as an accountant. She grew up in suburban Washington D.C. in Maryland with her two younger brothers Chaz and Nijel. As a child, she imitated Michael Jackson in her mother's high-heeled boots, using a spoon as a make-believe microphone. Mýa took violin lessons throughout her childhood, but dancing was her primary after-school activity. Mýa started ballet lessons in 1982 when she was only two and jazz and tap when she was four. Although she lost interest for several years, her interest waned at about age 10, but at age 12, it was rekindled. Her tap-dancing skills led to an opportunity to study with one of the best-known tap dancers in the country, Savion Glover, when he came to Washington DC for a workshop. Glover later chose Mýa for a solo spot in a dance performance at the Kennedy Center
During her childhood, Mýa sometimes had to endure insensitive comments about her ethnic background, but her accomplishments as a dancer helped her make the transition into adolescence and deal with its peer pressure. As she explained in an appearance on Canada's Much Music television show in January 2001:
There was a time in my life when I wasn't popular and accepted by kids in school. I was made fun of with braces and kinky hair, and being from a multicultural family, etcetera ... And it really hurts when you're that age, but later when you get something of your own or you get involved in activities like a sport, you begin to be accepted for what you do, and your personality and who you are, instead of your clothes and how you look and the name designer brands you have on.
As a popular performer, Mýa would later draw from her experiences to speak to girls' groups as part of the Secret of Self-Esteem program for adolescents, addressing issues such as body image, peer pressure, and gender stereotypes. Learning steps from music videos landed her a stint from 1996 until 1998 as a hip-hop dancer for BET's "Teen Summit". She also began teaching a children's hip-hop and jazz dance class in Camp Springs. By age 15, Mýa's musical side took over and her professional-musician father helped her perfect her vocal abilities. When he realized that his daughter was serious about a career in music, Mýa's father began shopping around with her demo tape, eventually catching the interest of University Music president and CEO Haqq Islam. After graduating from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland at 16, Mýa took a few classes at the University of Maryland, College Park, but the teenager's primary focus was on the recording studio.
1998–2001: Mýa, Fear of Flying and "Lady Marmalade"
After signing with Interscope, Mýa spent the next two years recording and completing her debut studio album. The album featured production and collaborations from noteworthy hit-makers such as Missy Elliott, Babyface, Diane Warren, Dru Hill, Darryl Pearson and Silkk Tha Shocker and spawned three successful singles. Her debut single, "It's All About Me" featuring fellow R&B singer Sisqó, was released on February 14, 1998. It peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart respectively. The single received a gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America on June 4, 1998. Her eponymous debut album was released April 21, 1998 in the United States and reached No. 29 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The album sold 1.4 million copies in the United States and received a platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America on October 1, 1998; denoting shipments to US retailers of over 1,000,000 units. In all, the album sold two million copies worldwide.
The album's second single "Movin' On", featured No Limit rapper Silkk Tha Shocker and peaked at No. 34 on the Hot 100 and No. 4 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart respectively. A third single, "My First Night with You" peaked at No. 28 on both the Hot 100 and the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The album earned Mýa two Soul Train Music Award nominations for Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist and Best R&B/Soul Album – Female and a NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding New Artist. In addition to her solo work, Mýa was featured with Ol' Dirty Bastard on Pras' Grammy-nominated 1998 hit "Ghetto Supastar" from the Bulworth soundtrack and "Take Me There" from The Rugrats Movie soundtrack, with Blackstreet, Blinky Blink, and Mase.
In 1999, Mýa began production on an album that would eventually become Fear of Flying. The title was partially inspired by Erica Jong 1973 novel, Fear of Flying which shared a lot of similarities toward female sexuality and development of second-wave feminism. The album featured contributions from Rodney Jerkins, Swizz Beatz, Soulshock & Karlin, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Knobody, Robin Thicke and Wyclef Jean. The majority of Fear of Flying was co-written and co-produced by Mýa and many of the album's songs were about female empowerment. Mýa, who did some writing on her 1998 eponymous debut album, was heavily involved in the production of Fear of Flying, from writing and recording to producing, mixing, and mastering.
On April 25, 2000, Fear of Flying was released and debuted at No. 15 on the Billboard 200 album chart with first week sales of 72,000 copies. Upon initial release, the album seemed to be suffering the dreaded sophomore slump. The album's first single "The Best of Me", featuring Jadakiss, under-performed on the charts, not even making it into the pop Top 40.
The album's second single, the confrontational "Case of the Ex", proved to be a different matter and was a dance-heavy jam with attitude on it. Mýa confronts her man about an old lover who will not go away. "Case of the Ex" became Mýa's breakthrough hit topping the Australian Singles Chart for two consecutive weeks. The song reached two and three in the US and UK respectively, and in turn solidified Fear of Flying as a hit.
With the success of "Case of the Ex", Interscope re-released Fear of Flying on November 7, 2000, with a revised track listing featuring two new songs, including the third single "Free" (which was previously on the Bait soundtrack) and a new track titled "Again & Again". "Free" was even more pop-friendly and became quite successful on MTV's TRL and at pop radio. Fear of Flying earned Mýa a Soul Train Music Award nomination for R&B/Soul Album – Female and a UK MOBO nomination for Best Album in 2001. A multiplatinum success, the album sold over a million copies in the United States and received a platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America on March 28, 2001. Subsequently, it earned gold certifications from Canadian Recording Industry Association and Australian Recording Industry Association. Although Fear of Flying was received with mixed reviews, the album was a critical and commercial success; catapulting her career into superstardom. Fear of Flying hit as nearly hard as her debut, remaining on the Billboard 200 album chart for 52 consecutive week stint.
In 2001, Mýa lent her voice to two film soundtrack projects; Walt Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! soundtracks. On the Atlantis: The Lost Empire soundtrack, she performed and recorded the tender pop ballad "Where the Dream Takes You. The Diane Warren-penned song was featured during the closing credits of Disney's highly anticipated animated feature, and was worked at Top 40 and Adult Contemporary radio starting June 5, prior to the film's June 15 release date; then she collaborated with singers Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, and P!nk on the remake of Labelle's 1975 hit "Lady Marmalade". Lady Marmalade was produced by hip-hip producers Missy Elliott and Rockwilder and released as the first single from the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack. The single was a worldwide success. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in its eighth week, spending five consecutive weeks at No. 1. "Lady Marmalade" became the third airplay-only track in the history of the chart to make it to the top. Since Billboard changed the eligibility rule in December 1998 to include all songs regardless of retail availability, only Aaliyah's "Try Again" (Blackground/Virgin) in June 2000 and "Angel" by Shaggy featuring Rayvon (MCA) March 2001 have made it to No. 1 without any sales points. Of the three tracks to now achieve this feat, "Marmalade" makes it to the top with the highest audience total (111 million listeners). "Angel" had 105 million in its only week at No. 1, while "Try" had 92 million in its sole week at the top. The song reached No. 1 in over fifteen countries including the UK and Australia. Lady Marmalade became Mýa's first chart-topper and third non-consecutive top ten on the Hot 100 chart.
The foursome was invited to perform at the 2001 MTV Movie Awards; the performance was the show's biggest highlight of the night. At 2001 MTV Video Music Awards Lady Marmalade was nominated for six moonmen and won two for Best Video from a Film and Video of the Year. In March 2001, Mýa paid a tribute to legendary music icon Janet Jackson at MTV Icon. She performed her own rendition of Jackson's classic hit The Pleasure Principle. Additionally, in between time, Harrison songwriting contributions were featured on pop singer Brooke Allison's debut album (Perfect Chemistry) and R&B singer Tamar Braxton's debut single Get None, a track originally recorded by Harrison and was set to appear on Fear of Flying.
2002–2008: Moodring, Liberation and Sugar & Spice
After the release and success of Fear of Flying, Mýa began to dabble in acting with a supporting role in the 2002 Academy Award-winning musical film, Chicago. In the following years, she continued appearing in films such as Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004), Shall We Dance? (2004), and Cursed (2005). In March 2003, Mýa appeared on hip-hop alternative group Jurassic 5's remix version of "Thin Line." Chosen as their second single and more R&B driven, "Thin Line" addressed the tension that often exists in platonic male-female relationships.
On July 22, 2003, after much delay, Mýa released her third studio album, Moodring. The album sold more than 113,000 copies in its first week and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, surpassing Mýa's previous effort first-week sales. Originally titled Smoke & Mirrors, the album displays an array of different emotions exploring Mýa's playful and sexual side. The majority of Moodring was co-written and co-produced by Mýa and was influenced by different subjects and music stylings including techno, pop rock, soul, hip-hop, R&B, quiet storm, etc. The first single, the Missy Elliott-produced "My Love Is Like ... Wo" became a top twenty hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and a summer anthem for women. The video showcased a more sexy and risqué side of Mýa and became popular at MTV. The second single, the elegant-mid tempo track "Fallen" failed to duplicate the same success, but reached the top forty on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Moodring stayed on the United States chart for a mere eighteen non-consecutive weeks and went on to be certified gold, selling 589,000 copies to date.
Mýa began working on her fourth studio album on and off in 2004. Originally conceived as a project called Control Freak, the album's first version was actually scheduled for a mid-2005 release and involving main production by Scott Storch, Dr. Dre, Lil Jon, Rockwilder and songwriter Sean Garrett. Although she intended to release a dance track called "Let It Go" at a particular time, the singer eventually decided to leave her management and A&M Records in fall 2005 before signing a new contract with Universal Motown. Mýa began consulting a few other producers to collaborate on the album, renamed Liberation, and in mid-2006, a buzz track entitled "Ayo!" was released onto the internet. Due to time-consuming "litigations, court, transitioning from label to label, teaching kids [at the Mya Art & Tech Foundation] and building a [recording] studio" however, the song was never picked up as a single and the album's release was pushed back again. In March 2007, the album's actual lead single "Lock U Down", a Scott Storch-produced collaboration with Lil Wayne, was sent to radio. After its commercial failure, a second single entitled "Ridin'" was released, but as the song saw minor success on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart only, Liberation was delayed once more and eventually bumped from the U.S. schedule. As a result, the album was never released physically anywhere but in Japan. In 2008, Mýa parted ways with Motown. Having worked on new material since mid-2007, she contracted with Japanese R&B label Manhattan Records (a division of Lexington Group, not to be confused with the American adult contemporary label of the same name) to release new material. Her fifth studio album Sugar & Spice received a Japan-wide release in December 2008. Composed of production by less known producers, the album produced a new version of her single "Fallen", a cover of Diana King's hit "Shy Guy", as well as the first and final single "Paradise".
2009–2013: Beauty & the Streets and K.I.S.S. (Keep It Sexy & Simple)
Almost a year later, Mýa re-released her Japan-only album Sugar & Spice. The newer version of the album, entitled Sugar & Spice: The Perfect Edition, was released on August 5, 2009, containing new remixes and a new song titled "Wish You Were Here" featuring Malaysian artist Che'Nelle. During her downtime Mýa started her own independent label, entitled Planet 9 and inked a deal with J. Prince's Young Empire Music Group. She released her first mixtape called Beauty & The Streets Vol.1 on September 29, 2009. The mixtape's first single, "Show Me Somethin'" featured Houston-based rapper Bun B and was sent to iTunes in August. The mixtape entered at No. 55 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. Mýa was invited to be a featured guest vocalist on We Are the World 25 for Haiti. In 2010, Variety reported Mýa currently has already completed 10 tracks for her next studio effort with producer Junior Sanchez. No release date has been set yet but think an electro-dance-rock vibe. Mýa commented, "Working with Junior Sanchez is an incredibly creative experience – he and his team are true musicians, and we have been having so much fun in the studio – the sound is brand new and completely fresh." The songstress was also gearing up for the launch of a brand new single "Love Is the Answer", with Cedric Gervais. Originally, the track was scheduled for release late 2010 but however pushed back into next year. The song appeared on Gervais' album "Miamication" via (Ultra Records).
In early 2011, E! Online gave an exclusive first-listen preview of "Love Is the Answer". The track was released February 8 worldwide via iTunes. She released a new track called "Fabulous Life" in Japan on January 19. It was the first single from her second studio album titled K.I.S.S. (Keep It Sexy & Simple) in Japan.
A second single titled "Runnin' Back" featuring Iyaz was released February 23. Her sixth studio album K.I.S.S. (Keep It Sexy & Simple) was released April 20, 2011 in Japan. The album debuted at No. 61 on Japan's Billboard Top Albums Chart and at No. 72 on Japan's Oricon Albums Chart with first-week sales of 1,543.
In an interview, Mýa announced she had a US version of K.I.S.S. (Keep It Sexy & Simple) that had been done for quite some time and she had been taking a lot of meeting every single month to find out if she would like to distribute the project independently or major. Either way, her plan was to get it out before Christmas stating the album is done and my fans want it. Although the US version was slightly different from the Japan version. K.I.S.S. U.S./Canada Deluxe Edition was released December 20, 2011 via iTunes.
Its first U.S. digital single was an up-tempo track called "Earthquake" featuring Miami native rapper Trina. The single was released December 6, 2011 via iTunes. The album's second U.S. digital single was the House/Techno – club rave inspired song "Somebody Come Get This Bitch" released December 13, 2011 via (iTunes). The project's next three U.S. digitally released singles were "Mr. Incredible", "Mess Up My Hair", and "Evolve". Harrison began working on her 8th studio album for 2012.
In an interview with Billboard's The Juice, Harrison explained she'll release her next album "when it's ready and supported properly" and is open to working with a major label again, "if a comfortable situation presents itself". Her priority is serving her fans worldwide now, versus the one-off, independent situation that she have been doing but still going to put out her mixtapes. She still may do projects in Japan, but her focal point and priority is to bring it back home. K.I.S.S. U.S./Canada Edition debuted at No. 74 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart for the week of February 11, 2012.
2014–2017: EP Series and Smoove Jones
Starting in 2014, Harrison released a series of EPs on her independent label Planet 9. With Love, a four-track Valentine's Day EP, was released in February 2014 to commemorate the release of her debut single "It's All About Me" and sixteenth anniversary in the entertainment industry. It received largely positive review from music critics. In April 2014, Harrison starred opposite Linda Hamilton in the Syfy original TV movie Bermuda Tentacles, which garnered negative reviews. The same month, her second EP Sweet XVI was released to commemorate the release of her debut studio album Mýa. It was followed by her second Valentine's Day EP, Love Elevation Suite, released in 2015.
Harrison released her eighth indie project Smoove Jones on February 14, 2016. Smoove Jones has been preceded by two singles. On October 10, 2015, Harrison released the first single from the project entitled "Welcome To My World" on all digital formats. A second single "Team You" was released December 8, 2015. Smoove Jones debuted at No.30 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart on March 5, 2016. Smoove Jones received a grammy nomination for Best R&B Album at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.
In early September 2017, Mýa announced the upcoming release of a new single entitled "Ready for Whatever", but gave no date for the release. "Ready for Whatever" was released September 22, 2017 as the first single from her forthcoming studio project. Less than two months later, Mýa released "Ready, Part II" as the second single on November 25, 2017.
2018: TKO (The Knock Out) & 5th Ward The Series
On February 14, 2018, Mýa released "You Got Me" as her third single from her forthcoming studio album TKO (The Knock Out) to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of her debut single "It's All About Me." Mýa starred as Mina Kennedy in the UMC's original series drama 5th Ward The Series. It premiered March 2, 2018. She continued to release a slew of singles which included, "Damage" and "Knock You Out." Her thirteenth studio project, TKO (The Knock Out) was released April 20, 2018 commemorating the anniversary of her debut album Mýa (1998). A new single entitled, "G.M.O. (Got My Own)" featuring Tink was released on August 31, 2018. Mýa is set to star in a new Vh1 reality television series, titled Girls Cruise with Lil' Kim and Chilli. It slated to premiere July 15. In February 2019, Harrison released "With You" to honor the anniversary of her debut single. Approximately, two months later, "Down" was released to commemorate the one year anniversary of TKO (The Knock Out). The following month, Mýa released "Open" on May 13, 2019. In June, she released the riddim collaboration "Handsfree" with dancehall artist Ding Dong. Harrison announced a new single "Whine" is set to drop soon.
Voice and songwriting
Mýa possesses a mezzo-soprano vocal range which spans approximately four octaves with particularly the tonality and timbre of her voice being highlighted and described as "very special." Writing for Slate, Sasha Frere-Jones acknowledged although Harrison's breathy voice suggests smallness, she easily accommodates with up-to-date melisma, unadorned legato, and quiet crooning. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic commented that Mýa has a voice that is at once sounding "innocent and knowing," while consistently "upbeat and confident." Similarly, Billboard complimented her voice for having a "smooth, sensitive, angelic tone" to it who oozes with the confidence and stylistic flair of an artist twice her age.
Other music critics have referred to her voice as "weak" and "thin." In reviewing for her second studio album Fear of Flying, Jon Azpiri of AllMusic commented that "she is a promising young talent, but still has yet to develop the chops necessary to rank among the best of R&B divas." Rolling Stone wrote, "The signature quiver in Mýa's voice does give her some sonic identity, but otherwise this could be the music of Destiny's Child, Aaliyah or any of the countless interchangeable hip-hop/R&B divas."
Since the beginning of her career, Mýa has always been artistically involved in her career. Harrison writes the majority of her own material for her studio albums. In an interview, she explained she writes 99.9% of her albums, and when songs are submitted to her, if she feels the song is something that feels like something she can perform well and hits close to home, then she feels comfortable doing it. Harrison is known for writing sexually-driven lyrics and female empowerment compositions with a bit of an edge to them through her love for free-spirited word play and incorporates a wide genre of music such as R&B, pop, dance, jazz, soul, hip-hop, techno, rock, reggae, and quiet storm.
In interview with People, she revealed she draws her musical inspirations from humming a melody off the note of a whirring fan or tapping her foot to the rhythm of the bathtub dripping; commenting she can hear melodies from natural sounds like birds chirping or the taxis and construction in Manhattan. Occasionally, however, Harrison wishes she could stop the music. "In the middle of a conversation, I'll start humming or moving my feet, and my friends will say, 'You can't be serious,'" she notes. "It's such a reflex that I'm totally unaware I look like an idiot." Most of her songs are helmed from personal experiences in her life as well as friends' experiences.
Harrison has co-produced most of her records since 2000. She has her own recording studio and label imprint, Planet 9 and is heavily involved in the production of her music and every single process, from writing and recording to producing, mixing, and mastering her own projects. Harrison is very active in all aspects of her career from the actual production to the business; formulating the beat, creating the concept, and coming up with the melodies.
Mýa has received praise for her stage presence and live performances. Author Stacy-Deanne opined Harrison had develop into a well rounded-performer with flexible abilities who was consistently a "source of attraction" on television and on tour. Staff writer Trish Davis of Hartford Courant described her presence as "compelling" while noting,"With a voice that sends high notes with clarity and low ones with force, Mýa's live act is solid." The AU Review's Chris Singh lauded her showmanship which he recognized has not "aged" nor her "duclet notes" that stole the show, citing Mýa as "versatile" and a "tough act to follow." Similarly, Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times praised her live performance, noting her dance movements in particular which he described as "sprightly", "sexy" and "theatrical." Natasha Pinto of The Music commented, "She possesses the dreamiest falsetto and commands attention with every note and step she takes, acknowledging Mýa ability to perform with "absolutely ease" and "sultry sass" who don't miss a "beat." Senior music writer George Palathingal for The Sydney Morning Herald noted, "whether performing slick routines alongside two booty-shaking dancers or accompanied only by an acoustic guitarist, Mýa is all class."
Mýa's musical influences include Sade Adu, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Prince, Chaka Khan, Minnie Riperton, and Madonna. Mýa praises Steve Wonder for his ability to hear music and play music and feel it and get other people to feel it, and Madonna for her boldness and courage. Mýa calls Minnie Riperton her favorite female singer and Prince her musical hero, stating, "He's someone who takes risks. He's an all-around entertainer, hell of a performer. He's a genius."
Mýa's dance influences include Gregory Hines, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Savion Glover, Jimmy Slyde, Electric Boogaloos, Rock Steady Crew, Cyd Charisse, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Sammy Davis, Jr.
Mýa made her acting debut in the 1999 thriller In Too Deep starring LL Cool J and Omar Epps. In the movie, she played a young woman named Loretta. Initially, Harrison was offered a role in the action film Half Past Dead (2002) starring Steven Segal, Morris Chestnut and Ja Rule, however turned it down.
In late December 2002, Mýa co-starred in the broadway musical Chicago alongside Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, and Renée Zellweger. In the film, she portrayed a murderess named Mona in the Cell Block Tango dance number. The film was a box office hit grossing $306,776,732 worldwide and earned Mýa a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance. In 2004, she had two small roles in the films Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights and Shall We Dance?. In the films, she played a latina lounge singer named Lola Martinez and Vern's fiancée. Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights tanked at the box office grossing $14,161,590 in the United States and $27,685,016 worldwide while Shall We Dance? became a box office hit grossing $57,890,460 in the United States alone and $170,128,460 worldwide.
In February 2005, Mýa had a supporting role in the Wes Craven horror film Cursed. The film starred Christina Ricci, Joshua Jackson, Judy Greer, and Shannon Elizabeth. In the film, Mýa played a young victim by the name of Jenny Tate. Although Cursed tanked at the box office grossing $19,297,522 in the United States and $29,621,722 worldwide, the film earned Mýa a nomination at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards for Best Frightened Performance. In March 2005, she guest starred as Samantha "Jade" King in season two of NCIS. In the episode titled "Pop Life", she performs "Sophisticated Lady" from her album Moodring. Additionally, in spring of 2005, Mýa was expected to star in an indie flick set in the world of swing dancing called Leading Man. The following year, Mýa co-starred in the comedy film Swap Meet alongside Nelly, DeRay Davis, Rochelle Aytes, and Gary Owen. It was set for an August 18, 2006 limited theater release, however nothing ever materialized. In 2007, she co-starred in the romantic comedy indie film The Meterosexual as Jessica. It starred Shaun Benson in the title role. Screened at the Boston Film Festival, the movie received mixed reviews. Jay Seaver of online website efilmcritic concluded, "It's not the funniest idea for a movie ever, but they still could have done a heck of a lot more with it."
Her next film, the Bill Duke-directed Cover, Mýa portrayed an AIDS victim named Cynda. The film opened at selective theaters and grossed $79,436 in the United States. The film dealt with the subject of men who are on the down-low in society. In 2008, Mýa had a starring role in the direct-to-dvd romantic comedy film Love For Sale. Mýa played a college student named Kiely in a bad relationship. The film was released to DVD on October 21, 2008. In 2009, Mýa had a supporting role in the comedy drama indie film Bottleworld. It featured an ensemble cast of Anna Camp, Christopher Denham and Scott Wilson. Harrison was set to appear in the psychological thriller Disciple with Taral Hicks, however she was recast.
In January 2011, Mýa returned to the silver screen and co-starred in the romantic comedy film The Heart Specialist alongside Wood Harris, Zoe Saldana, and Brian J. White. She played Brian J. White's ex-girlfriend Valerie. The film was a bomb at the box office grossing $1,103,037. In 2014, she co-starred in the syfy original movie Bermuda Tentacles opposite Linda Hamilton which garnered largely negative reviews.
Dancing with the Stars
In 2009, Harrison participated in Dancing with the Stars – season nine with Dmitry Chaplin. The two first danced a Viennese Waltz and a cha-cha-cha. For her Viennese Waltz, she was received scores of 8s from judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli, but a 5 from Len Goodman. Her cha-cha however was scored first place receiving 10 points.
The following week, Baz Luhrmann, who directed "Moulin Rouge!" in which Harrison sang, guest judged for Goodman. She danced a Jive that scored 27/30. She tied first place with Aaron Carter and Karina Smirnoff's Quickstep and received the encore of the week.
When Goodman returned as regular judge the following week, Harrison danced a rumba which scored yet another 27 however she received the first ever 10s from Inaba and Tonioli but a 7 from Goodman. A similar incident happened the following week when her Lambada scored 28 being scored 10s from Inaba and Tonioli and an 8 from Goodman tying in first place with Melissa Joan Hart and Mark Ballas's Charleston.
That following week, Harrison and Chaplin danced an Argentine tango which scored yet another 27, however she did not receive 1st place and instead future winners Donny Osmond and Kym Johnson did, receiving the highest score of the season to date, 29, until she beat that score later on. Following that week, the two decided to dance a jitterbug themed diner characters. Goodman remarked that "it was good, I just wanted a bit more" and scored a 24. They then danced a mambo against every other couple and received 9 points, losing to future fourth place finalists Joanna Krupa and Derek Hough, both of whom were tough competition for them.
The next week, the two danced a foxtrot and a Paso Doble with Michael Irvin, Mark Dacascos and Aaron Carter (Decascos and Irvin who got eliminated that week). For her Foxtrot, the two received 25 getting 9s from Tonioli and Inaba and a 7 from Goodman. Following that week, she danced a Quickstep which tied Osmond and Johnson's Argentine Tango score of 29. They then danced a 1970s-themed samba, for which she was awarded the first 30 of the season. The next week, she was asked to dance three dances (a waltz, a salsa and a cha-cha-cha) only receiving 9s and 10s, and receiving the second 30. For the finals week, she danced a Paso Doble and was dubbed by Carrie Ann Inaba as the "Queen of the Paso Doble", and was granted the third 30. Then, she danced the Megamix dance along with Kelly Osbourne and Donny Osmond and was granted another 30. For her final dance before the public vote, Harrison and Chaplin danced a Hairspray-themed freestyle dance which was remarked by the judges that "it was good but needed more" and received a 27. The final dance was a repeat of her jive from week 2 and received 28, finishing in the second place.
|Week #||Dance/Song||Judges' score||Result|
|1||Viennese Waltz/"Vision of Love"
|2||Jive/"Would You ... ?"||9||*9||9||Safe|
|3||Rumba/"Underneath Your Clothes"||10||7||10||Safe|
|4||Lambada/"Ain't It Funny"||10||8||10||Safe|
Mambo Marathon/"Ran Kan Kan"
|7||Foxtrot/"Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby"
Team Paso Doble/ "I Hate Myself for Loving You"
|8||Quickstep/"Baby Wants a Diamond Ring"
|Waltz/"Amore e Musica"
Salsa/"La Isla Bonita"
|Paso Doble/"We Will Rock You"
Megamix/"You and Me"/ "Whenever, Wherever" / "Maniac"
Freestyle/"You Can't Stop the Beat"
Jive/"Would You ... ?"
- Baz Luhrmann was a guest judge for week two
At the age of 18, Harrison served as an ad print spokeswoman for Bongo Jeans and had a Tommy Hilfiger lipstick shade named after her. In Fall 2000, she became a spokesperson for Iceberg jeans and featured in print ads in magazines. Harrison signed an endorsement deal with Coca-Cola in 2002, which included appearances on television commercials. She and then-label mate Common recorded a cover version of Ed Harris' "Real Compared To What". The commercial made its debut in 2003 at the American Music Awards and featured Mýa in a 90-second commercial singing a jazzy cover version of the song alongside Chi-town rapper Common. In early 2003, Mýa recorded an updated version of the Simon & Garfunkel classic hit "Feeling Groovy" for GAP television ads. The music for the spot was produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. In late 2003, Mýa performed the original theme song, "Everything or Nothing", for the then-latest video game in the Bond franchise – 007: Everything or Nothing. Mýa also appears in the game as the NSA agent sultry Bond girl "Mya Starling". Mýa co-wrote and co-produced the song with Randy Bugnitz and A&M president Ron Fair, and three variations of the theme appeared in the game. In 2005, Motorola signed Mýa and eight other artists to appear in a television commercial promoting its first iPod music phone, the Motorola rokr. The commercial starred Madonna and Iggy Pop alongside Little Richard, Bootsy Collins, Amerie, Alanis Morissette and look-alikes of Beethoven, Jimi Hendrix, and Notorious B.I.G. Additionally in 2005, Mýa signed to Ford Modeling agency and appeared in a variety of ad campaigns. On March 1, 2010, Escada announced that Mýa will host the celebration to introduce their newest scent, Marine Groove, on March 13 in Miami Beach.
In 2005, Mýa created her own nonprofit organization, The Mýa Arts & Tech Foundation, which is dedicated to "providing disadvantaged youth growth and opportunity through arts and technology education."
In 2007, Mýa was also the internationally featured artist in Heatherette's Fashion Show for Lifeball in Vienna, Austria to fight Global AIDS, hosted a fundraiser for Skool'd to aid homeless LGBT youth, and advocated gay rights by opening the Out 100 Awards. In 2009, she continued her philanthropic efforts by chairing the 2009 Operation Smile Event, participating in the literary project, If I'd Known Then: Women in Their 20s and 30s Write Letters to their Younger Selves, by Ellen Spraggins, and accepting an honoree award for her work with the NSAL and continued support of animal welfare. Mýa continued her social efforts in 2010 by partnering with Cyndi Lauper's True Colors: Give A Damn PSA, NOH8 campaign, NSAL 2010, and assisting in various HAITI relief efforts, among other philanthropic initiatives. Most recently, Mýa collaborated with legendary singer Dionne Warwick and recorded the gospel song "Let There Be Light." It featured a supergroup of Gladys Knight, Billy Ray Cyrus, Joe Don Rooney (Rascal Flatts), Kevin Sorbo, John Elefante (former lead singer of Kansas), Damon Elliott, The Sorbo Family, Yoni Gordon and Lucas Vidal. Released October 18, 2017, all of the song's proceeds were donated to non-profit organization Feeding America.
Vogue's Alex Frank credits Mýa as an influence of Y2K R&B. Writing for Vogue, Frank alludes that R&B stars Tinashe, FKA twigs, and Jhené Aiko "echoed a familiar kind of sound"; the sultry, futuristic music of R&B/pop singer Mýa. He acknowledged Mýa capabilities to "elbowed out the crunchy catchiness of Britney Spears and aggression of Kid Rock" with interesting, seductive music and dubbed Harrison's brand of R&B as neo-R&B—an innovative take on a beloved genre that promised a way forward. Essentially, he observed, "with the dominant sounds of R&B production at the time", Mýa was capable of "creating something preppy and poppy and radio—friendly that kept pace with the Britneys and the N'Syncs without sacrificing experimentation." While he accepted the three women currently dominating the genre, Tinashe, Jhené Aiko, and FKA twigs, "have been endlessly likened" to Aaliyah. He interjects noting, "you can hear Mýa in their cross—generational appreciation of subtle, almost anti-pop that still places a premium on powerfully catchy choruses and light, airy vocals." Elaborating, "You can see it in their nose rings and crop tops." Thus, Frank concluded with "though Harrison's career didn't last, it's clear that her influence has." Lewis Dene of BBC Music applauded Mýa ability to continue to "shrewdly bridge the gap between pop/R&B and street-level hip hop." The Daily Beast's Stereo Williams recognized Mýa as a trailblazer for artists like Tinashe and Kehlani while concluding her legacy is one that warrants celebrating. Music website Idolator epitomized "Case of the Ex (Whatcha Gonna Do)" as "everything that was great about turn—of—the millennium R&B." The Washington Post identifies Mýa as a classic "triple threat", commenting, "now having acted in such films as Havana Nights and Chicago and proved, under Savion Glover's aegis, she's a formidable dancer." However, noted "Mýa's strongest trump card, overall, is charisma, one that mixing sweet, innocent girl next door and feisty hip-hop princess down the block." As of 2008, Harrison has sold over 7 million albums worldwide. In 2009, Billboard ranked Harrison at No. 97 on their list of Hot 100 Artists of the 2000s. Complex listed her at No. 33 on their list of Top 100 Hottest Female Singers of All Time. Harrison's breakthrough single Case of the Ex (Whatcha Gonna Do) was listed at No. 77 on Billboard's Top 100 Songs by Female Solo Artists (1955-2007). Her collaborative effort, "Lady Marmalade" was listed at No. 47 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of '00s list.
Since Mýa arrival into the music industry, Harrison has received numerous accolades, recognition(s), and honors throughout her career. In 2002, Harrison won a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for "Lady Marmalade". Harrison won a Screen Actors Guild Award for her participation in Chicago. She's the winner of two MTV's moonmen including the prestigious Video of the Year award for Lady Marmalade. In 2006, Harrison was honored at the Palm Beach International Film Festival with the Cross Over Award (from singer to actor). Her singles The Best of Me Pt.II and Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are) was featured on About.com's Top 50 R&B/Hip Hop Collaborations list at 40 and 44 respectively. In 2003 and 2004, she appeared on Maxim's Hot 100 list; ranking at 31 and 52 respectively. "Movin' On" was voted as one of The 50 Best R&B Videos of the 90s by Complex. Billboard ranked "Movin' On" tenth on their 20 Best High School Music Video list. Her performance of Lady Marmalade at the 44th Grammy Awards was featured on About.com's Top 10 Grammy Award Performances of All Time. In 2014, "Lady Marmalade" was featured on the Huffington Post's Top 10 Most Iconic Grammys Performances. In 2015, MTV voted Lady Marmalade at No. 1 as the Best Musical Performance in MTV Movie Award history. Harrison was featured on the Huffington Post's Top 26 Black Female Choreographer and Dancers list. Out magazine included "Case of the Ex" as one of their most empowering, memorable and influential all-girl dance routines. Most recently, her eight independent project, Smoove Jones received a grammy nomination for Best R&B Album for the 59th Annual Grammy Awards. Billboard listed "Lady Marmalade" on their 100 Greatest Award Show Performances of All Time list.
Awards and nominations
- Studio albums
- Mýa (1998)
- Fear of Flying (2000)
- Moodring (2003)
- Liberation (2007)
- Sugar & Spice (2008)
- K.I.S.S. (Keep It Sexy & Simple) (2011)
- Smoove Jones (2016)
- TKO (The Knock Out) (2018)
- 2001: Fear of Flying Tour
- 2003: Moodring Tour
- 2016: Smoove Jones Show
- 2018: T.K.O. Tour
- 2007: Seagram's Live (with Clipse)
- 2016: 3 R&B Superstars: Live in Concert (with 112 and Blackstreet)
- Opening act
- Featured act
- 1998: Smokin' Groove Tour
- 1999: Lilith Fair
- 2000: All That! Music and More Festival
- 2007: BET Black College Tour
- 2016: RNB Fridays Live
- 2019: Femme It Forward
|1999||In Too Deep||Loretta|
|2003||Volcano High||Jade (voice)||MTV English dub|
|2004||Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights||Lola Martinez|
|2004||Shall We Dance?||Vern's Fiancée|
|2008||Love For Sale||Keiley|
|2011||Sunset Strip||Herself||Documentary film|
|2011||The Heart Specialist||Valerie|
|1999||Sister, Sister||Herself||FreakNik episode #115|
|1999||Figure It Out||Herself|
|2001||2GE+HER: The Series||Herself||Episode: "Lyrics" (2.4)|
|2001||Volcano High||Yu Cha-i||MTV movie, English dub|
|2002||Haunted||Voodoo Priestess||Episode: "Abby" (1.4)|
|2004||1-800-Missing||Kira||Episode: "Pop Star" (2.10)|
|2005||NCIS||Samantha 'Jade' King||Episode: "Pop Life" (2.16)|
|2006||Love Monkey||Herself||Episode: "Coming Out" (uncredited; 1.8)|
|2007||Yo Gabba Gabba||Herself||Episode: "Friends" (1.7)|
|2008||Secret Talents of the Stars||Herself / Contestant||Episode 1.1|
|2009||Dancing with the Stars||Herself / Contestant||21 episodes|
|2011||WWE Raw||Herself||"The Rock's Birthday Bash"; sang "Happy Birthday" to The Rock|
|2014||Bermuda Tentacles||Lt. Plummer||SyFy Channel movie (credited as Mýa Harrison)|
|2018||5th Ward The Series||Mina Kennedy||UMC's original series; 6 episodes|
|2018||Do or Dare||Herself||Episode: "T.I. vs. Mýa"|
|2018||Gods of Medicine||Jackie Garret||Episode: "Heaven Can Wait ..."|
|2019||Girls Cruise||Herself||Vh1's original reality television series|
|2003||James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing||Mya Starling|
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