Mya on music and her purpose in life

By BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI
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Mya (Marie Harrison) lived up to the billing by taking her fans down memory lane at the Johnnie Walker’s All Music Safari held at the Lugogo Cricket Oval in Kampala on November 30.

Full of energy and vigour she did not disappoint her R&B fans. With her mezzo-soprano vocal range she wowed and dazzled with hit songs from the late 1990s and 2000s.

Many of Mya’s fans sang and danced along when she played songs like Ghetto Superstar, Case of the Ex, Best of Me, Take Me There and Love Is Like Wo.

Local musicians who shared the stage with Mya were Kenneth Mugabi, Kaz Kasozi, Myko Ouma, Joseph Sax and the Explosion Band from Congo.

Mya,40, grew up in Washington DC, where she took up the violin, ballet, jazz and tap lessons while in primary school.

In 1998, she released her self-titled, double platinum, debut album Mya.

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Her second double platinum album Fear of Flying was released in in 2000.

In 2001, Mya collaborated with US artists Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Pink and Missy Elliot on a remake of LaBelle’s Lady Marmalade.

Selling over 5.5 million copies, it became the most successful airplay-only single in history, and won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration, and numerous other awards.

Mya’s critically acclaimed third album Moodring came out in 2003.

Following her label Motown’s accidental leak of her fourth studio project Liberation in 2007, Mya began her own independent label Planet 9, which has produced and released seven albums.

She played supporting roles in films such as Chicago (2002), for which she won a Screen Actors Guild Award and Shall We Dance? (2004).

In 2005, she founded The Mya Arts and Tech Foundation, a non-profit organisation, to provide opportunities for disadvantaged youth through arts and technology education. She is an advocate of breast cancer.

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This year, you celebrated two decades in the music industry. How has your journey been?

It’s been an amazing journey filled with beautiful people, places, experiences, challenges, life lessons and music that I’m proud of. I’m so grateful for the fans who have supported me throughout the years.

I was born into music and it is a part of my DNA. It connects my soul to others.

Melody, harmony, chakras, self-expression and therapy. A desire to touch, ignite feelings, comfort, spark inspiration in others and bring people together is always the driving force.

How does it feel to perform in Uganda?

It’s always a blessing to return to the motherland, and be welcomed with open arms. My entire team is extremely excited. And we are looking forward to giving a great show.

What Ugandan music interests you?

My favourite song from a Ugandan artist right now is Gutujja, by B2C and Rema. It’s such a great vibe.

Music is a male-dominated industry. How do you navigate the obstacles?

First, I choose not to look at anything as an obstacle. I then choose to look at being a woman in a male-dominated industry and world as more of an asset and advantage.

What would you have been if you were not into music?

I would specialise in healing people and animals.

What are your greatest achievements?

Alongside ownership and offering fans internships or paid positions on my independent label, I’d say my music has been some of my best work as an independent, the release of projects is consistent, and a Grammy nomination for one of the recent albums on which I was executive producer.

How do you mix music, film and television?

Sometimes they all intertwine on one project. It truly depends on the project.

How is life like as a vegan?

It is extremely rewarding to the taste buds, with endless benefits to the body, mind and soul. I have a new-found love for preparing, presenting and exploring foods.

You take care of disadvantaged groups and take part in other causes. Why is philanthropy important to you?

At the end of the day, everyone’s core purpose is to make this world a better place through acts of kindness, serving and helping one another. It is usually paid forward.

When should your fans expect your next album?

When I announce its release, which means it’s ripe and ready to share.

How do you spend your free time after a hard day’s work?

Sleep, a hot bath, and if I’m lucky, a massage or acupuncture helps me reset. I also love to cook.

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