UNLESS THEY’VE MADE some definitive statement that’s put them firmly in the public consciousness, an R&B artist who pulls a disappearing act can fall off the map forever. But this year, songstresses such as Macy Gray and Sunshine Anderson are defying that pattern. Add D.C. ‘s own Mya to the list of female R&B singers aiming to recapture their glory.
After three discs on the well-regarded Interscope, Mya moved to the notoriously unstable Motown. The move, just in time for the forthcoming disc, “Liberation,” was perceived as a precarious one. And the label lived up to its reputation for bobbling artist’s careers, delaying the release of “Liberation” by a year. But the new single, “Lock U Down,” featuring Lil Wayne and Mya‘s current tour with Clipse, may give her comeback added thrust. At least it should work Saturday night at the 9:30 Club. D.C., after all, is Mya’s stomping grounds.
In the four years past her last disc, “Moodring,” Mya experienced growing pains. On her Web site, she explained that during the four-year gap, she’s returned to D.C. from Los Angeles to recharge her passion for music. “I just knew I had to get back to my roots and rediscover what made me excited in the first place. I have all this creative energy and ideas but LA was too impersonal of a place to really develop a creative family,” she wrote.
Mya also witnessed the divorce of her parents and dealt with her mother’s recovery from breast cancer. Mya argues that “Liberation” is her most honest effort that really captures her inner strength and vulnerability.
The more personalized material on “Liberation” should help distance Mya from other female singers who have decent but not enormous voices. She is a classic triple-threat, though, having acted in such films as “Havana Nights” and “Chicago,” and proved, under Savion Glover‘s aegis, she’s a formidable dancer. (Of course, being gorgeous doesn’t hurt.) But Mya’s strongest trump card, overall, is charisma, one that mixing sweet, innocent girl next door and feisty hip-hop princess down the block.
As a recording artist, Mya has racked up two platinum discs — her 1998 eponymous debut, released when she was 18, and her 2000 sophomore date, “Fear of Flying” — and a gold one, “Moodring” (2003). All three succeeded more because of their production values rather than Mya’s chirpy voice.
Mya’s real musical benchmark remains her 2001 contribution to the wildly successful makeover of Labelle‘s “Lady Marmalade,” on which she linked up with Christina Aguilera, Pink and Lil’ Kim.
With the supposedly rejuvenated “Liberation,” Mya is determined not to make that her lasting statement.
Written by Express contributor John Murph
Photo courtesy Ruder Finn