Here's What Happened To '90s Singer Mýa

R&B singer Mýa (born Mýa Marie Harrison) may have seemed to disappear, but she never actually stopped working — she just stepped out of the limelight. At just 18 years old, her self-titled album quickly went Double Platinum (via Mýa), and her skilled dance moves and sultry voice made waves throughout the noughties. 

Mýa gave us some of the era's biggest hits like "Ghetto Supastar" and "Case Of The Ex" which are still R&B favorites. Thanks to a resurgence of the Y2K look (via Harper's Bazaar), Mýa's impact on fashion and 2000's aesthetic is undeniable. Moreover, the efforts of modern Y2K fashionistas to be inclusive of all body types align with Mýa's belief in self-love (via Girls United). She was also a spokesperson for the "Secret to Self-Esteem Program" for teen girls in 2001.

Mýa empowered women with her strong feminine presence through lyrics like "I'm free, single, sexy, and sweet. Makin' my own money" (via YouTube). She was part of a neo-soul movement that brought an innovative approach to R&B driven by fellow queens like Aaliyah and Ashanti that birthed a cultural movement and opened the door for a generation of female-driven music (via Billboard).

Lights, camera, action! Mýa's acting took center stage

Mýa became a triple threat by singing, acting, and dancing. In 1999, she crossed over from singing to acting with the crime thriller "In Too Deep." From there, she quickly jumped into various supporting roles for major films and musicals which set her up as an established actor (via Tribute).

She also appeared in the adaptation of "Chicago" in 2002, where she performed a song and dance number as Mona which earned her a Screen Actors Guild Award (via Mýa). After that, she continued to get cameos in "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights" and "Shall We Dance?" Finally, she got more screen time in Wes Craven's 2005 horror "Cursed" as Jenny Tate — a college student who tries to escape a werewolf's claws; gaining her an MTV Movie Award nomination for Best Frightened Performance (via Mýa).

Eventually, she landed a starring role in "5th Ward" in 2018 where she played a single mother trying to take care of her sons in the crime-filled 5th Ward area of Houston. "I would love for people to connect to the human experience," Mýa said (via Ebony). "When your back is against the wall and you feel like you're losing faith and hope because so many things are coming at you at once, hold on. Faith, love and hope are the lessons," she said.

Record label mismanagement held her music career back

Mýa was signed to Interscope Records in 1996, releasing her first album two years later which was both a critical and commercial success. The album produced her first top 10 track "It's All About Me" and she continued the upward trend with "Ghetto Supastar" which received a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group (via Mýa).

Her second album "Fear of Flying" was another hit; although, this album started her turbulent relationship with Interscope Record. It began after they decided not to include "Girls Like That" on the album. Mýa believed this song was important for men to hear as it stood up for them and debunked the narrative at the time that was painting men as mooches. "It's making guys aware of what girls can do instead of just putting down the guys," the singer said (via Entertainment Weekly).

After tiring from the fight for artistic control, she parted with Interscope Records in 2005 and signed with Universal Motown to produce "Liberation" in 2007. But due to label budget cuts and delays, the album suffered a commercial failure. The album release pushbacks caused it to get leaked in Japan, prompting the label to release it as a digital download only — during a time when physical albums were more popular. Disappointed by the label and determined to control her music, Mýa went independent after only a year at Universal Motown (via The Daily Beast).

Mýa started her own record label

In 2007, after her split with Motown Universal, Mýa was finally free from creative restraints. Her lawyers gave her advice to either go through a lengthy legal process and sue or go independent. So, she decided to embark on a journey as an independent artist (via The Culture).

People often misguidedly ask when she's going to sing again but Mýa told Grazia that she takes it positively and doesn't get annoyed: "I've been independent and independent is a different world and a lot harder. It's a lot more fulfilling in some ways but you're less visible and less audible to the masses."

The arduous process of starting her label, Planet 9, kept Mýa extremely busy. She executive produced, self-engineered, self-funded, and released seven different compilations. "Planet 9 is where I create my own rules, and my own time which doesn't necessarily have to revolve around earthly days and months," she said (via Herald Sun). The learning curve slowed her star power, but now she's more familiar with the process. "I know it like the back of my hand but it's taken 10 years for that to happen," the singer said (via Vibe). Solo Mýa also has a unique relationship with fans, hiring them for various aspects of her work. One even created graphics for her "Smoove Jones" album cover, telling Vibe that watching them succeed brings her joy.

Music took her around the world

Mýa said she's traveled more parts of the world in her independent years than she did when she was signed to a record label, which may surprise you. But when an artist is tied to a label, the label gets charged exorbitant amounts because they have deep pockets. "I've been able to negotiate with team players and keeping my budgets to a minimum [by] working with really talented people that believe in me," she said (via The Culture). The first place she went to as an indie artist was Japan, which she'd never been to as a major artist. This was followed by Australia, where she'd also never been as a major artist even though she had No.1 hits in both countries. "I find myself doing a lot of the things that I should have been doing as a charting artist on a major label now than ever before," she explained (via The Culture).

At the beginning of her independence, Mýa got a partnership offer from the Japanese label Manhattan Records. She recorded three albums through the coalition, two being exclusive to the Japanese music market: "Sugar & Spice" in 2008 and "K.I.S.S." (Keep It Sexy & Simple) in 2011 (via Mýa). Moreover, you can catch Mýa's name on the lineup for 2023 festivals like I Love RnB Music Festival in Long Beach, California along with Ashanti and Ja Rule, and at Australia's Juicy Fest with headliners Nelly and Ne-Yo.

Mýa was the personification of 2000's style

In 2000, Mýa was a model for Iceberg jeans — the "it" brand for R&B superstars at the time (via BET). The singer was the personification of 2000's fashion and style, especially in the music video for "Take Me There" from "The Rugrats Movie" soundtrack. Watching the music video today hits with a rush of millennial nostalgia. The music mixes the famous cartoon's intro while the video morphs reality and animation into a vibrant '90s fever dream. 

It's safe to say that anyone into "Euphoria" fashion will love Mýa's look here. Her first outfit in the music video features a pastel feather-lined tube top with baggy cargo pants, while the second outfit showcases a sheer detached sleeve top with low-rise black pants. Speaking about her fashion style, Mýa said: "I've realized that I can ... present a sassy image but not have to sell my soul" (via BMI).

Mýa stacked up awards and nominations

Mýa has cleaned up in nominations and awards throughout her career. Her first Grammy nomination was when she sang the hook for "Ghetto Supastar" (via Grammy). She also received kudos for her debut album, including a Lady of Soul Best Music Video nomination for "Movin' On" and two Soul Train Music Award nominations. Her second album "Fear of Flying" was also nominated at the Soul Train Music Awards for best R&B/Soul Album (via Mýa).

She won her first Grammy for "Lady Marmalade" — a remake of Patti LaBelle's '74 classic — on the "Moulin Rouge!" soundtrack. Mýa joined the iconic collaboration with Pink, Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, and Missy Elliot. The original song made it to the top of Billboard's Hot 100s, and the 2001 version quickly followed (via Cosmopolitan). The song became the first-ever to top the chart with over two credited female artists, and the third collaboration by separate female artists in history to hit No.1. It also won two MTV Video Music Awards, a VH1 Music Award, a Radio Music Award, and a Teen Choice Award (via Xtina Web). The queens truly mopped the floor with this track.

Mýa received a Grammy nomination in 2016 for Best R&B Album for "Smoove Jones" which she executive produced on her label. She also received a nomination for Best R&B Artist at the Wammie Awards in 2019 (via Mýa). The achievements just keep stacking up!

She danced into second place on Dancing with the Stars

Dance really started it all for Mýa as she became a dancer at only 4 years old. "My mother put me into dancing school and I did every type of dance there is," she said (via MTV). Apparently, she watched Savion Glover — a child tap prodigy — in the movie "Tap" and was hooked. She eventually joined the Tappers With Attitude dance troupe and stayed with them for a few years before auditioning for Glover. After two auditions, she made the cut at 13 years old. She did several residencies with Glover and got a solo spot in a Kennedy Center performance (via the Washington Post). 

Later, Mýa would go on to compete on Season 9 of "Dancing with the Stars." Although Mýa and partner Dmitry Chaplin won throughout the show, they came in second place by only two points, disappointing many fans (via Insider). The pair wowed with their complicated samba, sexy salsa, and epic paso doble. Winning 10s across the board for all three! Their energetic jive earned straight 9s, as well as her the title, "Mýa the magnificent!" from Bruno Tonioli (via People).

Ignoring the haters helped her to become her best self

In an industry filled with fame and attention, Mýa says she focuses on herself in order to succeed: "To reach my highest self every year ... I wouldn't be able to do that if I were focused on what everyone else is doing" (via Essence). Execs urged her to date superstars for publicity, and even though she refused, misogynistic rumors spread. According to Vibe, her self-confidence and autonomous decisions were equated with an "attitude and cattiness."

She was also the target of gossip surrounding 50 Cent and The Game after 50 Cent claimed he slept with Mýa in 2005 (via The Daily Beast). Mýa and The Game had a brief relationship (via Atlanta Black Star), which ended after he stood her up on Valentine's Day for another woman! As for 50 Cent, Mýa told Vibe: "50 and I never dated, never cuddled, never did anything, period, despite what he chooses to believe in his own mind."

Whenever she recorded with an eligible bachelor, the rumor mill ran wild. In 2009, gossip spread that she was dating Gucci Mane. "They caught me in the wrong pose looking like we had just finished kissing," Mýa explained (via The Daily Beast). "People will always have an opinion. Even if you're over here saving the world, there is a group of people that will love you and a group of people that will always hate you."

Self-care took precedence as she focused on her mental health

For Mýa, self-care is important for self-expression. "You should be in no rush to further what you love no matter what that is because that will afford you longevity," she explained (via Grazia). Mýa's perseverance and fight to remain authentic acts as a guiding light for future female artists. 

Unfortunately, she experienced losses in her career while going through emotional turmoil. Her parents — who were also her managers — went through a bitter divorce, her mom developed breast cancer, and her father was suicidal. "I did a lot of praying. I did a lot of writing. I did a lot of crying," she said (via Yahoo! News). She also opened up about the effects of people-pleasing and her desire to break the generational cycle of trauma, because so many women in her family dealt with sadness. "How can I get around being that woman? I have to break this cycle," she said (via Madamenoire).

So, Mýa made the important decision to put her mental well-being first and slow down. She left the music industry behind in 2005 to figure out what made her feel like herself. "I'm solid as a woman. There's really nothing now that can break or shake me," she explained (via Vibe). 

Mýa devoted her time to philanthropy

Mýa has been devoting time and resources to various causes, not for clout, but quite under the radar. After Mýa's mother survived breast cancer, she became a passionate advocate for the cause, collaborating with Lifetime for the "Stop Breast Cancer for Life" campaign by recording "My Bra" and donating 100% of profits to breast cancer research (via Mýa). She even founded her own charity TMATF — The Mýa Arts & Tech Foundation — a nonprofit organization that provides opportunities through arts and technology education for disadvantaged youth. For Mýa, philanthropy has been a way to heal. "Getting involved with kids and community service made me feel like I had a purpose in life and in my society. It feels good to know that you can help someone out," she said (via SouthCoastToday).

Mýa is also very devoted to animal welfare and has participated in various campaigns (via Mýa). In 2022, she was made the first U.S. ambassador for World Animal Protection (via PR Newswire). We're wondering when she finds the time to sleep!

She's become an advocate for veganism

Mýa's love of animals and drive for health and wellness put her on a path toward veganism. Before becoming vegan, she was a longtime vegetarian, initially trying veganism as a challenge of willpower, but it quickly morphed into a lifestyle (via Mýa). She's become very passionate about the cause, telling Vegan Life Magazine: "It literally changed my life in every positive way." Eventually, her love of veganism lead her to become the face of PETA's 2016 "Go Vegan" campaign (via PETA). 

In a video online, Mýa discussed what it means to be vegan and weighs the pros and cons of the lifestyle. She emphasized that the switch doesn't usually start out easy: "You walk into a world of cluelessness with no actual advice, no handbook" (via Facebook). However, she created a free online guide to help beginners when making the switch.

Mýa also released a vegan wine, Planet 9 Fine Wine. The brand developed a red Cabernet Sauvignon with plum infusions that use plant-based fining properties rather than animal-based properties which are commonly used in the wine-making process. This woman does it all!