If a house is not a home, an R&B singer trying to get comfortable and write new material could be in for some serious trouble.
So when Mya became disenchanted with living in Los Angeles, she decided to pack up and move back to her hometown of Washington, D.C. And in the process, she managed to reunite her divorced parents — albeit strictly in a professional sense — and record the most intimate material of her career for her fourth album, Liberation, due in stores November 14 on Motown/ Universal.
"I've been without both of them in my business life for a good seven years now," Mya said of her folks, who split shortly after the singer released her self-titled debut in 1998. "When I moved back home I took the initiative to involve my entire family in my career because I didn't find that anyone else was as passionate and thorough. My mom is my business manager, my father is a manager and my brother built the studio for me. And seeing my parents being forced to speak to each other has been very entertaining to me. I'm glad that I did that, because they weren't talking at all. They really didn't have a reason to.
"So it's been great to see the progression we've made as a family. Life is too short to hold on to the past and grudges," she added.
That same forgiving mindset extends throughout Liberation — which was originally conceived as a project called Control Freak (see "Mya Is Murderous Onscreen And A Control Freak On Record") for Mya's former label, A&M, which she left last year. "Life Is Too Short" is about wanting to call an ex who Mya lost touch with, even though he wasn't the most faithful of boyfriends. That real-life moment, Mya recalled, significantly shaped the direction of her songs.
"I had to put my pride aside in contacting him after we didn't speak for three months and I started worrying about him," she said. "I really cared about him, but he did me dirty. And I didn't want to go out or have him leave the face of this earth with a grudge under my belt. It took for me to put my ego aside and having reality checks come about."
The rumbling, go-go-inspired "Ayo" featuring DJ Kool is the first single from Liberation. But much of the material on the album, which features contributions from Lil Wayne, the Game and Scott Storch, is a mix of vulnerability and remorse, though Mya contends the music is a balance of up-tempo numbers with a handful of ballads. All of the tracks, however, are heavy on themes of self-sufficiency, the currently single beauty added.
"I saw what my mother went through and the relationship with my father that I witnessed, and why I might have a complex," she said. "But I'm speaking about a lot of things the entertainer Mya may have never spoken about before. So I'm definitely opening up. [My parents' marriage] taught me a lot about what I do want with my future and what I don't want. I got some wisdom under my belt with them and their experiences."