Keeping with tradition, the Parliament House is bringing a dance diva to its stage over Orlando's Big Gay Weekend, and Mya is excited to bring her popular songs to Orlando.
While it may seem like the pop stars mainstream relevancy has faded since her last U.S. hit, 2003's “My Love is Like…Wo,” that doesn't mean the 32-year-old Washington native hasn't been hard at work. She is probably best known for the 2001 Grammy-award winning hit, “Lady Marmalade” which teamed her up with Christina Aguilera, Pink and Lil' Kim. But Mya has appeared in the films Chicago, Cursed, Shall We Dance and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, and is consistently working for various LGBT charities.
MÃƒÂ½a was the internationally featured artist for Lifeball to fight Global AIDS, worked with Skool'd to aid homeless LGBT youth, NOH8 campaign, Give a Damn PSA, advocated gay rights by opening the Out 100 Awards, and in 2010 partnered with Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Tour. More notably, she finished as a runner up on ninth season of Dancing With The Stars in 2009.
On the heels of her seventh album release earlier this year, K.I.S.S. (Keep It Sexy & Simple), she performs at Orlando's Parliament House June 3, as part of GayDays weekend. Watermark spoke with the accomplished singer and actor to find out what else she's been up to and what fans can expect this time around.
WATERMARK: What can we expect for this appearance at Parliament House?
MYA: When Miss Mya comes to town, just expect to let your hair down and have a great time! I can’t wait to party with you guys!
For those not in the know, what have you been up to since your last US release in 2003?
Politically incorrect answer: Hmm let’s see; long-ass litigations with shady-ass managers, transitions between labels, avoiding going to court for more litigations by just walking away and saying no, constantly eliminating assholes from my life, and just trying to stay out of jail and/or the insane asylum, all while saying no to drugs.
Politically correct answer: Well, I’ve been focusing on loving life and all the good things in it. [I've been] working with disadvantaged youth through The Mya Arts & Technology Foundation, raising breast cancer awareness, working as an animal rights activist via North Shore Animal League America and global philanthropy via Africare.
Outside of charity and the everyday hustle on the road, I’ve taken some time to study sound engineering, record several projects, do a few indie films, teach, run a 26.2 marathon, travel and support the family.
Although you've been constantly working for the last 14 years, what would you say is the difference between the Mya of 1998 and now?
Well, I was a kid without much life experience then. I am all woman now, molded by many tests of character and faith. These days, I am completely in charge of everything, not that I want to be or have any control freak issues. [Laughs]
You're obviously well aware of your legion of gay fans. What do you attribute your “gay icon” status to?
I’m not exactly sure I’ve reached “icon” status as I’m really just beginning my career now, but I believe my fans appreciate someone who knows themselves. Status is earned by years of experience and the amount of finesse you do it with.
Who are some your favorite gay icons in the music world?
In the world of theatre and music: Barbara Streissand, Liza Minelli and Chita Rivera.
In the world of music: Donna Summer, Grace Jones, Cher and Sylvester.
Do you think the decision to change your record label and market to only the Japanese market was positive or negative?
I never changed my record label to only the Japanese market. In 2007, the record label I was signed illegally and accidentally released my album Liberation in Japan. My lawyer said I could spend time and money in court suing them due to negligence or just become independent. From there I created my own indie label called Planet 9. Because the Japanese market accidentally received Liberation, a Japanese record label approached me about doing non-exclusive business in that territory enabling me to own my own masters.
After reviewing the offer, I accepted and have been doing non-exclusive business with them in addition to releasing projects stateside just for my fans as well. I gave fans stateside Beauty and the Streets: Vol. 1 in 2010, and now K.I.S.S. There’s a positive and negative to doing anything. Doing absolutely nothing is what I refuse to do.
How did your appearance on Dancing With The Stars come about; did you approach them or did they come to you?
A friend of my father’s, a freelance agent, brought the opportunity to the label. It entailed a conference call and then negotiations took place.
Did you get to choose who you'd be partnered with?
No, my partner was already selected. There were no complaints on my end.
How was it working with the hunky Dmitry Chaplin?
Dmitry was a joy and a challenge to work with. [He was] patient, thank goodness.
But he was just way too easy on the eyes. [It was] torture. [Laughs] I had to tell myself, “keep it professional, Mya.”
Besides an obviously ambitious tour and recording schedule, what projects are you working on now?
[I'm] working on a few in-studio projects; a collaboration album and my eighth studio album, Beauty and the Streets: Vol. 2.
You've worked with a wide range of performers. Who else would you like to collaborate with?
Prince, Lauryn Hill and Andre 3000, to name a few.
You were quoted as saying you wouldn't release your next album until “it’s ready and supported properly. Can you elaborate on that?
In order to launch an album in a major way for the masses, it must be supported with millions of dollars to cover, not only the production, mixing, mastering, photo shoots, music videos, etc, but also to hire the proper radio team for nation/international airplay, a publicity firm, promotions, advertising, marketing, promotional tour, etc. Though I’ve been releasing boutique projects on a smaller level to get accustomed to doing independent business, I think I owe my fans what they want and that’s the Mya producing hot music videos, with strong international presence on the radio. I may have to align myself with a major label for that. More music is on the way!
WHERE: Parliament House, Orlando
WHEN: Sunday, June 3
Plenty of entertainment available over GayDays
Mya isn't the only pop superstar or major entertainer coming to town for the annual GayDays weekend. Sonique, Chaka Kahn and funnyman Johnny McGovern are all scheduled to appear over the weekend. There are also a few Florida natives taking to the stages. (For a full list of entertainment, see our enclosed GD2012 Guide.)
Sonique will perform poolside at the Parliament House at 1 a.m. Friday, June 1. Her hits “I Put A Spell On You” and “It eels So Good” and “Sky” will surely make it into her concert.
The following day, Saturday, June 2, Chaka Kahn takes over the pool stage at 1 a.m. The diva's “I'm Every Woman” helped fuel the sounds of Whitney Houston's character in The Bodyguard and her “Nobody” is played on dance floors around the world.
Tickets to both Sonique and Chaka Kahn are available at ParliamentHouse.com.
If music isn't what you're looking for, check out the Pornstar XXX Search at Pulse Nightclub on Thursday, May 31. The fun starts at 9 p.m. and will feature porn star Rod Daily and Roxxxy Andrews as they search for the next great adult film star for Next Door Studios. Tickets are available at the door.
If you just want to laugh over GayDays, check out Jonny McGovern: Feelin' Really Faggity at the Parliament House's Footlight Theater on June 1 and 2. The stand up comic and LOGO star will keep you laughing through both shows.