Mya was born in Washington, D.C., where she took dance classes as a child. After briefly losing interest in the art, she returned to dancing in her pre-teens, eventually joining the dance troupe T.W.A. (Tappers With Attitude). She left the group after a short while, heading to New York to study at the Dance Theater of Harlem with Savion Glover, best known as the choreographer/mastermind behind the Broadway spectacular Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk. Her passion for improvisation made her a favorite of Glover, who had her perform solo at the Kennedy Center.
Although Mya was best known as a dancer, she was also musically inclined, learning how to sing and play the violin as a child. When her father — a professional musician — learned that his daughter could sing and was serious about a musical career, he shopped around the demo tapes, eventually earning the attention of Haqq Islam, president of University Music. Impressed with Mya’s audition, Islam signed her to Interscope Records.
Mya and Interscope spent the next two years working on her debut record, hiring an impressive list of collaborators, including Darryl Pearson, Babyface, Diane Warren, Raphael Brown, Wyclef Jean, Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, and Sisqo and Moko from Dru Hill. The resulting album was a smooth urban song cycle about love and growing up; it was released in April 1998. Two years later, her more mature second album, Fear of Flying, which featured collaborations with Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez, Jadakiss, Wyclef Jean, and Swizz Beatz, arrived. Moodring (2003) and the oft-delayed Liberation (2007) followed.