Oh, Mio, Mya


By Smith Galtney

Mya has earned her final diva stripe. After debuting nine years ago sans surname (Harrison, if you must ask), the 28-year-old triple threat has since proved herself in multiple formats'as R&B hit maker ('My Love Is Like'Wo'), video vixen (her turn in the diva-tastic 'Lady Marmalade' from Moulin Rouge), and film actress (Chicago, the upcoming comedy The Metrosexual). The Washington, D.C., native even created her own institute, the Mya Arts and Technology Foundation, where she teaches dance in her spare time. But where's that definitive diva manifesto'the album about how she's picked her battles, stared down haters in the music biz, and emerged a triumphant, independent woman? No worries: It's here, and it goes by the name of Liberation.

'The music industry makes it challenging for anyone to create something different and original,' Mya admits, perched in hair and makeup at a New York City photo studio. 'But now I'll just do it. I'll pay for my own studio time. Or build my own studio. Because I can.'

Coating its heady material with jiggly, au courant luster, Liberation features beats by mega-producers such as Scott Storch and cameos from the likes of Snoop Dogg. And like any true diva, Mya knows how to play to the boys in her crowd. 'There's no full-out club tracks this time around,' says the writer of 'Whatever Bitch,' the catty floor filler that was a highlight of 2003's Moodring. 'But when I sing new songs like 'Walka Not a Talka' or 'I Am,' I can see my gay friends out there. And they are with me!'