Sometimes (when I have my stuff together, which is not that often) I pride myself in being the baddest b on the block. With laser focus, I get the job done. Yes, this sistah makes it happen for real. If you want to keep up with me, you got to do what Diddy says, “Go hard or go home.”
Just when I think I really have my ish together, someone (usually a younger someone) comes along to set me straight, to let me know that, no darling, you aren’t all that. And the person who knocked me off my imaginary pedestal this time was none other than Cincinnati’s School for Creative and Performing Arts student, Mia Carruthers of MTV’s Taking the Stage (90-minute season finale, Thursday, May 7, 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific). The Nick Lachey-produced reality television series features Mia and other students as they hone their respective artistic crafts in preparation for the pursuit of their dreams. (For more about the series, click here.)
Mia, a graduating senior and singer/songwriter, is just as comfortable singing Adele’s Chasing Pavements as she is Kayne West’s Heartless and has sung both on the show. And her original compositions, which reflect her self-described folk/pop sound and jazz influences, express timeless truths through thoughtful lyrics and lush melodies.
And yes, she has a band: Mia Carruthers and the Retros.
Now tell me you’re not impressed. Yes, I’m talking to you, who, like me, can barely find your behind with a flashlight on a good day.
Well, I had the chance to talk to Mia recently and I found her to be as easy going and as confident as she appears on the show. And even more impressive.
On the show Mia is focused, never allowing anything or anyone to stop her in her quest to make The Dream a reality. Not a breakup with a boyfriend. Not her involvement in what seemed to be a love triangle (more on that later). Not the expulsion of her best friend from school. The girl’s focus is so hard, it would make Diddy want to check himself. With that said, Mia stated that she has to “keep her self-motivation in check” being careful not to be inconsiderate to the people around her.
So when did Mia decide she wanted to be a singer/songwriter? At age 9.
Yes, you read that correctly. So you won’t feel too badly about yourselves, she wasn’t writing “full songs then, just vocal melodies”. Mia wrote her first full song in 8th grade. What was it about? World peace? No. Eradicating famine? No. Constitutional law? No. The answer: boys. Come on, what did you expect from an 8th grader?
As it turns out, Mia’s musical ability, is home grown. Her father, who served as her “coach”, plays guitar and writes songs as well, and her old brother plays in her band.
Talking with Mia is like speaking with someone from a different era, one which emphasized artistry rather than artifice. Remember those days? I know I do. Mia’s somewhat old school views are reflected in her thoughts about many of today’s music videos . She said they seem to about women trying to get away with wearing as little as possible. Mia would love to see more videos tell ” a story visually” and “represent the music.”
Warning: And now, I will delve into a bit of previously mentioned messiness.
On the show, it appeared that Mia was interjecting herself into the budding relationship of ballet dancer Jasmine and hip hop dance Tyler. So, I had to ask Mia about this to get her side of the story.
Cool as always, Mia brushed aside any notions that she had any real effect on their relationship. She understands people’s interest in the seeming salaciousness of it all but would rather people focus on what everyone, Jasmine and Tyler included, is doing as artists. And anyway, they are in high school for goodness sake. “Relationships come and and go but art remains,” said Mia philosophically.
Enough about that.
Now that she’s on television every week, I asked Mia how her life has changed. “The only difference is that people recognize me doing the same things always done such as going to Starbucks.” said Mia who loves the positive response she has received.
Although she’s grateful for the exposure, Mia wants no “special treatment because of the show.” She welcomes, even relishes, the process and does not want “to go into things before she is ready” and skip steps that would allow her to grow musically. She has no desire to become “the next pop sensation who fades way in two years”.
As for Mia ever “fading away”, I don’t see that happening to the young woman with the old school vibe.
More about Mia
What Did Mia Want to Be Before She Was 9? Prior to age 9, she wanted to be lawyer.
What’s Playing in Mia’s Ear? She likes an eclectic mix of music from Jay Z to Kanye West, to old school jazz to Sarah Bareilles. Some of her favorite artists include James Taylor, John Mayer and Neil Young.
American Idol Favorites from this Season: She hasn’t gotten a chance to watch it much this season but from what she has seen, Adam and Alison are her favs.
How Was She Selected for the Show: “MTV talked to kids in school thought her was story worth telling,” said Mia.
What’s It Like Going to an Arts School? Mia said that going from a regular junior high to an arts school was a culture shock. She is surrounded by creative individuals and in an accepting and open environment that encourages individuality.
What Would She Have Wanted You to Have Seen More Of? Her hanging out with her friends. And yes, she and Aaron remain best friends.
Mia said that she hopes to release Breathe You In as a single and in the next months will be working on recording an EP.
According to Mia (via Twitter), that EP will be available for downloading in September. Also, she told us (Twitterville) that Taking the Stage is a go for a second season. As to whether or not she’ll be on the show, she’ll let us know.
Taking the Stage will return on Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 11 p.m. (Eastern/Pacific) right after America’s Best Dance Crew at 10. The show will be a half hour in length — another change from last season. Mia and Tyler are both said to be featured on the series as well as newcomers.
Mia and her band have released their first EP, now available on iTunes Mia and the Retros – “We Will Grow Up.”