Mưa Marie Harrison (born October 10,
1979), who performs under the mononym as Mưa, is an American R&B
singer-songwriter, record producer, actress, and model. Born and raised in
Washington, D.C., Harrison's eponymous debut album with Interscope Records
was released in April 1998, and sold over two million copies in the United
States, producing the gold-certified top ten single "It's All About Me"
Her second studio album, platinum-selling Fear of Flying, was released in
2000 and became a success stateside and worldwide, with single "Case of
the Ex" becoming Mưa's breakthrough hit, reaching number-one on the
Australian Singles Chart. A year after, Harrison won her first Grammy
Award for the worldwide number-one hit "Lady Marmalade", a cover version
she recorded alongside Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, and P!nk for the
soundtrack of the film Moulin Rouge! (2001).
The singer's third album, Moodring, was released in July 2003 stateside
and certified gold by the RIAA. Following several label changes, Mưa's
often-delayed fourth studio album, Liberation (2007), received a
download-release in Japan only and led to her 2008 Japan-exclusive album
Sugar & Spice.
Having expanded her career to acting and product endorsement deals,
Harrison has been engaged in product endorsement deals with brands such as
Coca-Cola, Iceberg, Tommy Hilfiger, and Motorola and has had small roles
in films such as Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004), Shall We Dance?
(2004), and Cursed (2005). In 2002, she had a supporting role in the film
adaptation of the 1975 Broadway musical Chicago, for which she won a
Screen Actors Guild Award.
Harrison was the runner up on the ninth season of Dancing with the Stars.
Billboard' named Mưa the 97th Hot 100 Artists of 2000s.
Named after writer Maya Angelou, Mưa Marie Harrison was one of three
children born to African-American Sherman, a musician and singer, and
Italian American Theresa Harrison, an accountant, in Washington, D.C. She
grew up in nearby suburban Maryland with her two younger brothers Chaz and
Nijel. Her mother worked as an accountant and her father sang with a
number of top-40 bands in the area. Mưa took violin lessons throughout her
childhood, but dancing was her primary after-school activity. She took
ballet lessons from the age of two and added jazz and tap dancing lessons
to her schedule two years later. She entered some dance competitions with
her brother as a partner, and then joined the Tappers With Attitude troop
as a ten-year-old. Her tap dancing skills led to an opportunity to study
with one of the best-known tap dancers in the country, Savion Glover of
the Dance Theater of Harlem, when he came to Washington for a workshop.
Glover later chose Mưa for a solo spot in a dance performance at the
With a black father and a mother of Italian descent, Mưa sometimes had to
endure insensitive comments about her ethnic background. Her
accomplishments as a dancer, however, helped Mưa to make the transition
into adolescence and deal with the peer pressure that many teenagers
experience. As she explained in an appearance on Canada's Much Music
television show in January 2001, "There was a time in my life when I
wasn't popular and accepted by kids in school. I was made fun of with
braces and kinky hair, and being from a multicultural family, etcetera.
... And it really hurts when you're that age, but later when you get
something of your own or you get involved in activities like a sport, you
begin to be accepted for what you do, and your personality and who you
are, instead of your clothes and how you look and the name designer brands
you have on." As a popular performer, Mưa would later draw on her
experiences to speak to girls' groups as part of the Secret of Self-Esteem
program for adolescents, addressing issues such as body image, peer
pressure, and gender stereotypes.
While she continued to study dance and appeared on Teen Summit on the
Black Entertainment Television network, Mưa changed her focus to music as
she entered her teens. With the help of her father, she put together a
demo tape when she was 15 and began to scout around for a record deal
while she was still in high school at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in
Greenbelt, Maryland. After an audition in the living room of University
Music Entertainment president Haqq Islam, Mưa got herself a management
deal which led to a recording contract with University and its major-label
affiliate, Interscope Records. Mưa finished high school when she was 17
years old and subsequently took a few classes at the University of
Maryland, College Park, but the teenager's primary focus was on the
Mưa released her self-titled, double-platinum debut album, Mưa, on April
21, 1998. The album featured the massively successful singles "It's All
About Me", "Movin' On", and "My First Night with You". The album's leading
single "It's All About Me", a duet with fellow R&B singer Sisqó produced
her first top ten hit and was certified gold on June 4, 1998. The album
produced two more top forty hits "Movin' On" featuring Silkk the Shocker
and "My First Night with You". Within the next six months Mưa's self
titled debut was certified platinum on October 1, 1998. The album garnered
Mưa two Soul Train Music Award nominations for Best R&B/Soul or Rap New
Artist and Best R&B/Soul Album - Female.
In addition to her solo work, Mưa was also a featured artist with Ol'
Dirty Bastard on Pras' 1998 Grammy Award-nominated hit, "Ghetto
Superstar", from the Bulworth soundtrack and "Take Me There" from The
Rugrats Movie soundtrack, with Blackstreet and Mase.
On April 25, 2000, Mưa released her second studio album titled, Fear of
Flying. The album debut at number fifteen on the Billboard 200 chart with
first week sales of 72,000 copies. Upon initial release, the album seemed
to be suffering from the dreaded sophomore slump. The album's leading
single, "The Best of Me", featuring Jadakiss, was a dreamy midtempo tune
that relies on Mưa's throaty inflections. The song was a hit at urban
radio but failed to crossover to mainstream radio. "The Best of Me",
arguably one of the better pop songs of 2000, under-performed on the
charts, not even making it into the pop Top 40. The album's second single,
the confrontational "Case of the Ex" was a dance-heavy jam with attitude;
on it, Mưa confronts her man about an old lover who will not go away.
"Case of the Ex" became Mưa's breakthrough hit reaching number two on the
Billboard Hot 100, number three on the UK Singles Chart, and number one on
the Australian Singles Chart. With the success of "Case of the Ex",
Interscope re-released Fear of Flying on November 7, 2000 with a revised
tracklisting containing two new songs, including the third single "Free".
(which was previously on the Bait soundtrack) and a new track titled
"Again and Again". "Free" was even more pop-friendly and became quite
successful on MTV's TRL and pop radio. Fear of Flying, landed Mưa a Soul
Train Music Award nomination for R&B/Soul album in 2001. Eventually Fear
of Flying was certified platinum on March 28, 2001 selling more than 1.2
million copies in the United States alone. Although Fear of Flying was
received with mixed reviews, the album still became a huge commercial
success for Mưa launching her career into superstardom. Fear of Flying hit
nearly as hard as Mưa's debut, remaining on Billboard 200 for 52
In May 2001, Mưa collaborated with Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, and Pink
on a remake of Labelle's 1974 hit "Lady Marmalade". The track was produced
by hip hop producers Missy Elliott and Rockwilder and was featured in Baz
Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge!. The single sold 5.5 million copies, becoming the
most successful airplay-only single in history. The song reached number
one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in its eighth week, spending five weeks
at the top of the chart. The song's success was driven by its sexually
suggestive video, which featured the four singers dressed in burlesque
outfits. Pink and Mưa later described that the immodest concept almost
prevented the video from being filmed; nonetheless, the video was a huge
hit on MTV, VH1, and MTV2, and collected several MTV Video Music Awards
nominations in 2001. The song was also one of the year's biggest at pop,
rhythmic, and even adult top 40. Mưa alongside Aguilera, Lil' Kim, and
Pink not only performed at the Grammy Awards ceremony, but walked away
with the grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. "Lady Marmalade"
went on to collect numerous awards including two MTV Video Music Awards
for Video of the Year and Best Video from a Film.
After the release and success of Fear of Flying, Mưa began to dabble in
acting with a supporting role in the 2002 Academy Award-winning musical
film, Chicago, in which she would win a Screen Actors Guild Award for
Outstanding Ensemble Performance. In the following years, she continued
appearing in films such as Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004), Shall We
Dance? (2004), and Cursed (2005). In 2004, Mưa made appearance as a Bond
girl in the video game James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing; she also
sung the video game's theme song, "Everything or Nothing". Mưa went on to
become a spokesperson for the Coca Cola company with labelmate Common with
their ad campaign Real Compared to What.
On July 22, 2003, after much delay, Mưa released her third long-awaited
studio album, Moodring. The album sold more than 113,000 copies in its
first week and peaked at number 3 on Billboard 200, surpassing Mưa’s
previous effort first-week sales. Originally titled Bittersweet, Moodring
display an array of different emotions exploring Mưa’s playful and sexual
side. The majority of Moodring was co-written and co-produced by Mưa and
was influenced by different subjects and music stylings including techno,
pop rock, soul, hip-hop, r&b, quiet storm, etc.
The first single, the Missy Elliott-produced My Love Is Like...Wo became a
smash hit and a summertime anthem for women. The video showcase a more
sexy and risqué side of Mưa and became popular at MTV. The second single,
the elegant-mid tempo track "Fallen" failed to duplicate the same success
but however reached the top forty on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
Moodring stayed on the US chart for a mere eighteen consecutive weeks and
went on to be certified gold,selling 597,000 copies to date.
In 2003, Mưa posed for Maxim magazine; her pictorial is featured on their
Girls of Maxim gallery. She was also a model for King magazine. Mưa has
also appeared in various print ads.
Mưa was working on her fourth studio album on and off since 2004; she
signed a six figure contract with Ford Modeling Agency in 2005. Originally
conceived as a project called Control Freak, the album's first version was
actually scheduled for a mid-2005 release and involving main production by
Scott Storch, Dr. Dre, Lil Jon, Rockwilder and songwriter Sean Garrett.
Although she intended to release a dance track called "Let It Go" at a
particular time, the singer eventually decided to leave her management and
A&M Records in fall 2005 before signing a new contract with Motown
Records. Mưa began consulting a few other producers to collaborate on the
album, renamed Liberation, and in mid-2006, a buzz track entitled "Ayo!"
was released onto the internet. Due to time-consuming "litigations, court,
transitioning from label to label, teaching kids at the Mya Art & Tech
Foundation and building a recordingstudio" however, the song was never
picked up as a single and the album's release was pushed back again. In
March 2007, the album's actual lead single "Lock U Down", a Scott
Storch-produced collaboration with Lil Wayne, was sent to radio. After its
commercial failure, a second single entitled "Ridin'" was released, but as
the song saw minor success on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart
only, Liberation was delayed once more and eventually bumped from the U.S.
schedule. As a result, the album was never released physically anywhere
but in Japan.
In 2008, Mưa parted ways with Motown and contracted with a Japanese label,
Manhattan Records. Having worked on new material since mid-2007, her fifth
studio Sugar & Spice received a Japan-wide release in December 2008.
Composed of production by less known producers, the album produced a new
version of her single "Fallen," a cover of Diana King's hit "Shy Guy," as
well as the first and final single "Paradise."
Almost a year later, Mưa re-released her Japan-wide album Sugar & Spice.
The newer version of the album titled Sugar & Spice:The Perfect Edition
was released on August 5, 2009 containing new remixes and a new song
entitled "Wish You Were Here" featuring Malaysian artist Che'Nelle. During
her downtime Mưa started her own independent label, entitled Planet 9 and
inked a deal with J. Prince’s Young Empire Music Group. She released her
first mixtape called Beauty & The Streets Vol.1 on September 29, 2009. The
mixtape’s first single, Show Me Somethin' featured Houston-rapper Bun B
and was service to radio in August. She is currently working on her 6th
studio album due February 2010.
Harrison is a mezzo-soprano with a four-octave range. Her voice is best
described as soft, mellow, strong, clear, assured, and whispery. Stephen
Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic commented that Mưa has a voice that is at once
"innocent and knowing", while Billboard complimented her voice for having
a "smooth, angelic tone" to it who oozes with the confidence and stylistic
flair of an artist twice her age. Other critics often call her voice weak
and thin. In reviewing for her second studio album Fear of Flying, Jon
Azpiri of AllMusic commented that "she is a promising young talent, but
still has yet to develop the chops necessary to rank among the best of R&B
divas." Rolling Stone stated "The signature quiver in Mưa's voice does
give her some sonic identity, but otherwise this could be the music of
Destiny's Child, Aaliyah or any of the countless interchangeable
hip-hop/R&B divas." During an interview with Billy Johnson Jr of Yahoo!
Music in 2003, Mưa stated "I like to sing loud, I like to sing soft, I
just like to feel good, period. It's not that serious." She also commented
on the fact there are a lot of misconceptions about singing: "I'm just
happy to be here. I think being a young artist, just starting out of high
school, what kids listen to is club music. We don't necessarily get too
deep or sing like Aretha Franklin. That's not even what music is truly
about today. It's sad, but I want to give a little bit of sex, being
fabulous or sassy. I definitely want to be able to sing and back that up,
and being a dancer first has sort of given me a complex that I have to be
able to sing, period, with a band. If I break my leg, I'd like to give a
show without pyrotechnics and choreography every five seconds."
Since the beginning of her career, Mưa has always been artistically
involved in her career. Harrison writes the majority of her own material
for her studio albums. She is known for writing sexually driven lyrics and
female empowerment compositions with a bit of an edge to them through her
love for free spirited wordplay and incoporates a wide genre of music such
as jazz, soul, hip-hop, techno, rock, reggae, and quiet storm. Using
clever concepts and metahpor in her music, she's one of today's promising
young talents and profound artists. Most of her songs are helmed from
personal experiences in her life as well as friend's.
Harrison has co-produced most of her records since 2000. She is heavily
involved in the production of her music and every single process, from
writing and recording to producing, mixing, and mastering. Formulating the
beat, creating the concept, and coming up with the melodies.
Harrison is a versatile performer. As a child, she had terrible stage
fright, but dancing eventually gave the all-around performer the
confidence she needed to test the waters as a singer. She’s best known for
her aggressiveness, carelessness, and fluttering, expressive vocals on
stage. Captivating audiences around the globe, as both a sassy, soulful
singer and a supremely gifted dancer, when she steps on stage or behind a
microphone Mưa doesn’t just blossom, she ignites; improvising tap dance
numbers, strutting and voguing and in control, commanding the stage with
an energy and passion that have made her one of today’s most popular
Mưa's musical influences include Sade Adu, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson,
Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Prince, Chaka Khan, Minnie Riperton and
Madonna. Mưa praises Steve Wonder for his ability to hear music and play
music and feel it and get other people to feel it, and Madonna for her
boldness and courage. Mưa calls Minnie Riperton her favorite female singer
and Prince her musical hero, stating, "He's someone who takes risks. He's
an all-around entertainer, hell of a performer. He's a genius."
Mưa's dance influences include Gregory Hines, Michael Jackson, Janet
Jackson, Savion Glover, Jimmy Slyde, Electric Boogaloos, Rock Steady Crew,
Cyd Charisse, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Sammy Davis, Jr.
She cites Lena Horne and Liza Minnelli as role models.
Mưa made her acting debut in the 1999 film In Too Deep starring LL Cool J
and Omar Epps. In the movie, she played a young woman named Loretta.
In late 2002, Mưa co-starred in the broadway musical Chicago alongside
Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, and Renee Zellweger. In
the film, she portrayed a murderess named Mona in the Cell Block Tango
dance number. The film was a box office hit grossing $306,776,732
worldwide and earned Mưa a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding
Ensemble Performance. In 2004, she had two small roles in the films Dirty
Dancing: Havana Nights and Shall We Dance?. In the films, she played a
latina lounge singer named Lola Martinez and Vern's Fiancee. Dirty
Dancing: Havana Nights tanked at the box office grossing $14,161,590 in
the United States and $27,685,016 worldwide while Shall We Dance? became a
box office hit grossing $57,890,460 in the United States alone and
In early 2005, Mưa had a supporting role in the Wes Craven horror film
Cursed. The film starred Christina Ricci, Joshua Jackson, Judy Greer, and
Shannon Elizabeth. In the film, Mưa played a young victim by the name of
Jenny Tate. Although Cursed tanked at the box office grossing $19,297,522
in the United States and $29,621,722 worldwide, the film earned Mưa a
nomination at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards for Best Frightened Performance.
Her next film, the Bill Duke-directed Cover, Mưa portrayed an AIDS victim
named Cynda. The film opened at selective theaters and grossed $62,217 in
the United States. The film dealt with the subject of men who are on the
down-low in society. In 2008, Mưa had a starring role in the direct-to-dvd
romantic comedy film Love For Sale. Mưa played a college student named
Kiely in a bad relationship. The film was released to DVD on October 21,
Harrison was announced she would participate in Dancing with the Stars'
ninth season with Dmitry Chaplin. The two first danced a Viennese Waltz
and a Cha-Cha-Cha. For her Viennese Waltz, she was scored 8's from judges
Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli but a shocking 5 from judge Len
Goodman. Her Cha-Cha-Cha however was scored first place receiving 10
points. The following week, Baz Luhrman who directed "Moulin Rouge!" in
which Harrison sang in guest judged for Goodman. She danced a Jive that
scored 27/30. She tied first place with Aaron Carter and Karina Smirnoff's
Quickstep and received the encore of the week. When Goodman returned as
regular judge the following week, Harrison danced a Rumba which scored yet
another 27 however she received the first ever 10's from Inaba and Tonioli
but a shocking 7 from Goodman. A similar incident happened the following
week when her Lambada scored 28 being scored 10's from Inaba and Tonioli
and an 8 from Goodman tying in first place with Melissa Joan Hart and Mark
Ballas's Charleston. That following week, Harrison and Chaplin danced an
Argentine Tango which scored yet another 27 however she did not receive
1st place and instead, future winners Donny Osmond and Kym Johnson did
receiving the highest score of the season to date of 29 until she beat
that score later on. Following that week, the two decided to dance a
Jitterbug themed diner characters. Goodman remarked that "it was good, I
just wanted a bit more" and scored a 24. They then danced a Mambo against
every other couple and received 9 points losing to future fourth place
finalists Joanna Krupa and Derek Hough, both of whom were tough
competition for them. The next week, the two danced a Foxtrot and a Paso
Doble with Michael Irvin, Mark Dacascos and Aaron Carter (Decascos and
Irvin whom got eliminated that week). For her Foxtrot, the two received 25
getting 9's from Tonioli and Inaba and a 7 from Goodman. Following that
week, she danced a Quickstep which tied for Osmond and Johnson's Argentine
Tango of 29. They then danced a 1970's-themed Samba which she was awarded
the first 30 of the season. The next week, she was asked to dance three
dances (a Waltz, a Salsa and a Cha-Cha-Cha) only receiving 9's and 10's
and receiving the second 30. For the finals week, she danced a Paso Doble
and was dubbed by Carrie Ann Inaba as the "Queen of the Paso Doble" and
was granted the third 30. Then she dance the Megamix dance along with
Kelly Osbourne and Donny Osmond and was granted another 30. For her final
dance before the public vote, Harrison and Chaplin danced a
Hairspray-themed Freestyle dance which was remarked by the judges that "it
was good but needed more" and received a 27. The final dance was a repeat
of her Jive from Week 2 and received 28 finishing in second place.