The R&B singer talks Grammy nomination and being her own boss...
By Shameika Rhymes
Listening to Mya’s newest album Smoove Jones will have you feeling like you have Fallen for her all over again as she takes you on a ride complete with throwback inspired R&B.
“This album is strictly dedicated to R&B and Soul with old school flavors that are reminiscent to the type of music that I grew up listening to,” explained the singer. “I consciously chose to make sure it had all positive vibes and vibrations.”
If you turn the clock back to the ‘90s, then you may recall that Mya’s early tunes served as the soundtrack for many going through the ups and downs of love. However, Smoove Jones isn’t a comeback since she never stopped making music that made you want to two step or chuck the deuces to an ex. The Grammy Award winner has released a total of 12 studio projects in her nearly two decade career including her latest project that’s been nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Album.
JET caught up with Mya to discuss crafting the Grammy nominated album through her independent label Planet 9.
JET: What does it feel like to be nominated for your third Grammy?
Mya: Oh my goodness, I still have to stop and pinch myself! (laughs) It feels really good to be acknowledged by the Recording Academy who specializes in science and arts and the quality of music, the songwriting and the list goes on. This nomination is really special because it’s a full project that’s an R&B project; which is, I think, overlooked in the business and in mainstream radio. This project is also fully independent, which that’s amazing for me. It’s just reassurance and it feels great. This album felt really great in the creation process. I created it from a place that aligns of how R&B music made me feel and how it inspired me. It’s so amazing for those reasons.
JET: You just mentioned that this album was released independently. Talk about taking on that role of having to do everything yourself.
Mya: I’ve been independent for the last eight years. Prior to Smoove Jones, I released 7 projects independently on my label Planet 9. The first couple of projects started in Japan and I learned how to assemble an album, how to executive produce it, fund it, how to generate the funds—really just everything about the process. I became an independent entity.
Three to 4 projects before Smoove Jones there were EP’s with only 4 to 6 songs. The fans were actually the ones that requested the music for whatever the next project was going to be. Valentine’s Day has become a popular release date for me, so I listened to the fans to release a longer project. That marked the anniversary of my very first single, It’s All About Me, which was released 19 years ago on Valentine’s Day. So it’s a celebration of them and what they want to hear. I didn’t want to wait for another one to two years for another company or entity to get behind it. The market is so saturated these days so you really can’t wait these days. I put it out as a gift to the fans with no TV or radio play. I just wanted them to really enjoy it.
JET: You’ve been in the game for almost 20 years, what are some lessons, good or bad, that you have learned along the way?
Mya: I look at lessons as good things. If we choose to look at something like a lesson and utilize it for the next thing that comes our way. I’ve learned how to sit my behind down when necessary because I am a workaholic. I work so much and it’s dysfunctional, so I had to learn that there’s a lesson in silence. There’s a voice that we all too frequently don’t hear; it’s a voice of a higher self that we don’t hear telling you to sit down, be alone, and just be silent for a while. The most important lesson that I’ve learned and apply now is I’m not afraid to turn my phone off and change my number and just listen and do nothing.
Those are the moments that I believe I become aligned with a greater purpose and stop listening to the other voices, insecurities, and the fears that people might think of me, want me to do, how to speak, all of that. I needed to learn how to hear my own voice, so that’s the number one lesson. After that patience and that things that last take time. We are in a hustle and bustle type of world, so be patient with yourself, allow yourself to make mistakes and forgive yourself, that’s another lesson. Also, to think outside of what I’ve been taught in every area of life.
JET: Looking back on your discography, what is your favorite song?
Mya: There’s a song called Nothin at All from my album Liberation. That would be one of my favorites. It’s about embracing all of the negative, all of the bad situations, because those are the things that cultivate who we are, it gives us strength to pull from, it’s part of our testimony, and how we are going to help other people.
JET: What’s next for you?
Mya: I’m always working on something. I never know when it’s going to come out so I just never really talk about it. I’m always working on me. I’m working in the studio so something will probably be born out of that. You can always keep up with me on my website, it has the updates. There is also an independent film called Lazarus that will be coming out this year. I’ll be performing very soon at Soulquarius in Santa Ana and at The Novo with Brandy. I’m really excited about that. In the meantime, I’ll be over here working on the groundwork to stack and give back [laughs].