Today we’d like to introduce you to Mia Ayana.
Mia, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was young when I discovered music. My father was a music enthusiast and had a massive record and CD collection filled with various genres. He’d play 90s albums, Snoop Dogg’s Gin & Juice. He loved Prince and Cameo and all artists in between. It was he who initially inspired me to love music as much as I do. My brother inspired me to pursue it. He had dreams of becoming a renowned songwriter, producer, and record label owner. He’d share his dreams with me. Write songs and get me to sing them. I started writing back then, too.
Songwriting and when I started:
I started amateur songwriting in fourth grade. I was listening to R&B groups like Cherish and B2K. I was in love with Ciara at the time. Monica too. So I wrote songs similar to ones they did.. or as much as I could anyhow as a fourth-grader. I remember confiding in a friend then who said she also wrote songs. I showed her my notebook full of them… talked about how passionate I was about it.
In response, she took the notebook and read it out loud on the bus with her two friends. The bus was full of people. I was mortified. I’m from a small town in MS.. a place where things like songwriting aren’t even considered a career path.. especially not at nine. So you can imagine just how embarrassed I was.
They told me they’d read it at the football game that Friday to everyone from school. I begged them not to. They didn’t, but it stopped me from openly sharing my art with people for a long, long time. I kept writing. I kept singing when I was alone, but I didn’t share it with anyone.
Becoming “Mia Ayana”:
The year was 2014. I was a freshman in college and a huge fan of Jhene Aiko. Her voice was like nothing I’d ever heard– a calming remedy to the craziness going around me. the partying every night. the drinking and hanging around people who weren’t meant for me. Her voice gave me peace. And it made me find confidence in my voice.. the softness of it. I grew up around church singers with voices like Aretha Franklin’s and Beyonce’s so when someone with a voice similar to mine “made it” I was intrigued. Inspired.
So my sophomore year, I started really writing songs again… a bit more seriously this time. I would hear these melodies in my head that I didn’t know how to create via beat making software, so I would hum and sing the songs on my janky iPhone and record them. Few months into it I discovered beats on YouTube and started writing to those. I would hook up my computer to this old iHome my roommate at the time gave me, and I’d record a voice recording via my phone. No recording software. no mic. no nothing. I put a few of those songs on Soundcloud but later deleted them. They sounded pretty bad… but I was making an effort to create. I kept doing this for a few months
In 2015, my grandmother died suddenly and it completely ruined me and my family. She was the only immediate family left on my dad’s side… before she died she told me how successful she knew I was going to be.. but she told me she wasn’t going to be there. It hurt. I still replay that conversation in my head to this day. Her death inspired me to push more harder for this dream.
In 2015, for Christmas, my boyfriend bought me my first recording microphone and downloaded Logic Pro X on my computer. I immediately started recording nonstop. I was trying to mix and master myself.. which was terrible bc I had no experience.. but I tried. And I continued to try until I linked up with an engineer and producer in 2018. There were a few times where I gave up for a little. jumping out and then back in. But in 2018, I decided this was something I wanted to be 100% serious about and I developed a cohesive plan of how I’d do just that.
I mapped out marketing tactics for my social media. Studied the sounds of some of my favorite artists–paying special attention to every piece of their songs.. not just the words or the beats.. but the construction overall..wordplay.. their energy.. subtle sounds in the background. Guess it sums up to music theory.
I then started searching producers and engineers who aligned with my goals and the kind of music I was trying to make.. the kind of sound I wanted the world to hear. I found both and with them, I was able to release my first few singles and my first project Far from Home (which dropped Sept. 9.)
Every song on the project was created from audio recordings of acapellas created by me–just like back when I recorded on my shitty iPhone, expect now, I had a producer to send it to create a beat around it. He executed the sound I was going for, and my engineer did the same with my voice.
This has allowed me to grow significantly as a singer and as a writer. Over the past year, I’ve performed at several gigs across Las Vegas–opened for Christopher Williams in February, for Lyfe Jennings in August and a party hosted by Lisa Raye a few months before both. I was selected to perform at Hot 97’s Who’s Next Pre Summer Jam Showcase in May after my song Timeless landed on their leaderboard twice–and I released my first project this month titled Far from Home.
It’s been a long journey, and I don’t mean to ramble about it. But I wanted to give you a feel of how tedious this journey has been.. I come from a very small town in Mississippi where people don’t believe in dreams like mine so the fact that I’m fighting like this for it is bigger than me. It’s for anyone from similar places with dreams they don’t even understand. I’ve been shown that ANYTHING is possible. Reality has far exceeded my expectations of what would come from this.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Definitely not. It’s been tough. I still think about giving up.. but I realize now that I’m too invested.. too in love with it to stop. And I think that’s what makes it so hard. My passion runs so deep for music that if I stopped, I wouldn’t even be me anymore. I wouldn’t know what to do.
I’ve probably spent a few thousand on wardrobe, marketing, photoshoots, and content. I try not to keep up so I don’t get depressed. I work a full-time job while doing this just to keep it afloat. I’ve knocked on so many doors absent of a response. But in the end, it’s all worth it… the late nights recording in my closet.. listening to my songs over and over until I get it right. Rejections.. support. I have a dream and I’ll do everything in my power to keep it alive. I mentioned that during the last conversation I had with my grandmother in 2015 she told me how successful I would be–how she saw things for me I didn’t even see for myself. I feel like I owe it to her more than anything to continue do just that.. and I owe it to myself to complete what I’ve started.
We’d love to hear more about your work.
I’m an indie singer, songwriter and poet who creates classic R&B music. I’m originally from Mississippi–and I think that’s what sets me apart more than anything–the grind I have from coming from such a place. I’ve traveled from there, to Washington, to Illinois to Nevada to California in the past year and a half in pursuit of my dreams and honestly… it’s been the scariest thing I’ve ever done.
I’m from a very small town called Wren. People don’t just leave… It’s rare. But something inside of me just won’t let me stop. I’ll go anywhere I need to make this happen. My goal overall is to break generational curses.. to let kids from MS and places similar know they have options… that they can follow their dreams. Everything I’m doing is bigger than me. I’m just trying to give back…trying to shine light on different avenues to let the youth know they can even if they’re told they can’t.
What were you like growing up?
I was quiet.. still am for the most part, but loved reading and writing. I was always very in tune with the latest music… and I’ve always loved soft ballads… and a little bit of trap & hip-hop music in between 🙂
My family had a lot to do with my personality.. especially my brother. Each summer, my brother would create a showcase for us to do in front of our parents… He would rap and I would sing. Those were the beginnings of this journey and I didn’t even know it. He recognized my shyness early on and told me I’d have to grow out of that if I wanted to work with producers and engineers in the industry one day. “These people ain’t gonna play with you” he told me. He was right.
- Website: miaayana.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/miaayana___/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/miaayanax
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/miaayana___
- Other: https://www.youtube.com/miaayana
all photos taken by Joshua Libertine (@jlibertine_)