Happy Tuesday #Jontourage,
Welcome back to the “Classy Gent Chronicles”, where staying classy is the only way to be. On this special edition Women's History/ Women's Appreciation blog post, you are going to learn five life lessons I learned from my favorite celebrity, Mýa. Let's jump right into it....
So most people have a favorite singer. Maybe it’s based off of a similar personality.
Maybe it’s that their music really speaks to your soul. For me, mine stems from a childhood connection.
When I was younger, my mom used to work in the music business. Although there were nights she was out of town or long hours at the office, there were some pretty cool perks. One amazing perk were the autographed albums. Who doesn’t love a personalized CD? Secondly, a cool perk were the moments you got to brag to your friends and classmates about the cool job your mom has. Every kid wants to be accepted and a parent with a cool job is essentially your golden ticket to “Acceptanceville, USA”. I remember once my mom came to career day to talk about what she did and all the kids were in awe. I felt like a celebrity that day. All I was missing was the red carpet and the paparazzi. The third and probably coolest part of a mom in the music business were the concert tickets with backstage passes. Who wouldn’t want to meet a musician as a little kid? I mean really…
The company my mom worked for was affiliated with Grammy Award-Winning R&B artist, Mýa. So as a result, I became a Mýa fan at an early age. This was close to the beginning of her career, so I have been there through the growth of her career. We also grew up in the same region (DC, Maryland, Virginia or as we call it the DMV) I have always been one who appreciated music, regardless of who it was from. As a growing male, most guys favorite musicians are males in the public eye because they feel a sense of shame to admit they like songs by females that have no male features whatsoever. Male pride can really ruin a lot of good things for you but that’s another story for another day… I was a little different. I never once hid my fandom for Mýa regardless of how old I got or who I was around. Even now, if you go to my “Meet Jonathan” page on my website, you will see who my favorites are.
Believe it or not, the layout for my first book “Master of Ceremonies: A Male’s Guide for a Successful Life” was inspired by Mýa’s third album “Moodring”. The coolest part about the album “Moodring” is that each song had a different feel and did not have anything to do with the other songs. In my eyes, a diverse book has a better chance of selling more similar to how a diverse album does. Moodring has songs about love, pain, loss, and even potential pregnancy… yes you will just have to listen to the album for the rest of the lessons. Anyways…
Many people today ask why Mýa stopped making music. The answer is she never stopped making music, she went independent. Story time… in the mid-2000’s, the record label Mýa was with accidently released her album overseas. There was some miscommunication and one of the countries overseas was not informed of the date change for the album release. Long story short, the album was leaked. At that point, Mýa could either sue or just become an independent artist so she chose to become an independent artist.
Not sure how much you know about the independent music scene but it is very different than the major record label scene. You see a lot more of your money, however you are paying for everything yourself. Imagine paying for college 100% by yourself versus taking out a student loan or getting a scholarship. It would most likely take you a lot longer than four years to graduate because you are funding everything 100%. If you don’t have the money that semester, you can go to school that semester. Being an independent artist works the same way compared to the major record labels that pay for everything for you. That’s why you do not always hear an independent musician’s music on the radio because airtime on the radio is very expensive. Although the major labels are great for exposure, they take so much of your money, you may literally be seeing pennies per album sell by the time the dust settles. Many fans are not familiar with the music business but since I have a mom who worked for the industry for so many years, I understand why independent isn’t a bad route to go. In fact as a published author, I plan to go independent myself one day. That’s a separate blog topic coming soon….
Like I said, I always appreciated Mýa as a singer but it wasn’t until I became a published author that I truly appreciate the business aspect of my favorite singer. Here are five life lessons I learned from Mýa that I apply daily:
1. Patience is key- As I mentioned, everything does not come overnight. Sometimes it may be years in between projects but it is better to release good quality than poor quality things that drop every six months. Many fans got mad Mýa does not release music every few months but she does consistently drop something every year on February 14th which is her anniversary of her debut single “It’s All About Me” ft. Sisqo. Timing and consistency are everything in business
2. Silence is golden- There is currently a Youtube video out where absolutely offensive and untrue remarks were made about Mýa’s morals and all around character. It’s truly a shame how we bash our women of color. Instead of making a video cursing them out or threatening those who said the comments, Mýa took the high road and chose not to respond at all. In life, people are going to say terrible things and if they are trying to pull you down, remember they are already below you. Stay focused! I know that I am relatively new in the author’s industry but as I reach more success, I will be under more criticism so I stay aware of this concept.
3. Self care is important- Mýa is a vegan and inspired me to try a one week vegetarian diet. Although it was an adjustment period, I did feel a lot better from trying a vegetarian lifestyle, even if it was just for one week. Since that, I have incorporated a lot more fruits and vegetables into my diet. Outside of that, Mýa stays in the gym several times per week or dances to relieve stress and stay healthy. It’s important especially for us with stressful careers that we take care of ourselves. No job or opportunity is worth your life.
4. A smaller loyal fan base can sometimes be the best thing in the world. There is no better feeling in the world than a group of people that truly love and support whatever you do. These are the ones who check out everything you do, share it with others, and always make an effort to buy your products/services. Mýa’s fan base and love for the music industry has grown so strong, she has developed her own internship program and some of her interns were long time fans. When I saw the effectiveness of working with your fan base, I also decided to develop my own internship for my author journey and the process was well worth it. Giving back to those who supported you along the way speaks volumes about your character.
5. The more you know, the less you have to pay others to do. Mýa encouraged me to get new skills and I've saved so much money. Within one year’s time of writing a book, I have learned graphic design, contract writing, video editing, and web design skills just to name a few. The professions I have mentioned above are very expensive services so learning how to do them myself has saved me so much money in exchange for some of my time.
My biggest lesson learned on this author journey is that I should have gotten an professional mentor up front. I know Mýa’s musical influences include Sade Adu, Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, and more. At the time I wrote my book, I didn’t know any other authors. I was literally the first person in my family and friends to write a book so although I set the trend for those who came after me, there was a lot it would have been nice to know beforehand. Outside of just putting a book together, even learning how to appear on radio or television was a huge lesson I had to learn. My first radio appearance was a few months after my book was released and I was absolutely terrified. I actually prepped for my radio appearance by watching Mýa and Ryan Leslie (my celebrity mentor that just doesn’t know it yet lol) on various interviews to learn about my tone, my posture, and how my responses should go. Sometimes you have to work with what you have until more comes along. I know I will get a celebrity mentor one day….
Moral of the story: They say in life, everyone you come across is meant to teach you something. I am constantly looking for life lesson in the things I see and hear as well. I truly believe it was faith that my mom’s job would have her working close to Mýa and that almost 15 years later, her example and character would help me launch my book career successfully. Mýa showed me the grind is non-stop and you have to be willing to scratch and claw for what you want in life. Since I witnessed her do that, I tried the same approach and it worked out well. A true class act and someone we can all learn from. Ask yourself, why is your favorite your favorite?
Remember, in order to live out your dreams, you have to think it, feel it, live it! Until next time, stay classy...
Jonathan C. Harris is no stranger to leadership, hard work, or success. At the age of ten years old, he earned the right to be a guest weatherman for a day on Fox 5 DC News. He has already received over 100 honors and awards including Forty Under 40 for Prince George’s County, MD, TEDx Talk speaker, American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Outstanding Men’s Program, high school Valedictorian and the Kiwanis Club Citizenship Award. Raised in Fort Washington, Maryland, he has served in leadership positions his entire life, from being the manager of the school store in elementary school to the president of the Homelessness Awareness Club in middle school to the president of the National Honor Society in high school.