At 21 a lot of young ladies are having college fun and chasing guys…not Maya Milan. The young starlet has bigger fish to fry, like selling out arenas and setting an example for young girls everywhere. Marriage, kids and a white picket fence are definitely in the plans, but not yet. Maya’s dream is to perform in front of thousands of fans as they sing every word of her songs. I chatted with the young songtress with big plans and she shared all about her musical journey, her surprise performance wit K.Michelle and more. Check out our chat below.
Keyauna: I read all about you, Maya, and you’ve been doing this singing for quite awhile. Since you were in elementary school, right?
Maya: Yeah, elementary school was the start of everything. Really fourth grade. My fourth grade teacher, she really inspired me to really come out and start singing, so when I started having solos in the choir, I was just like, “Yeah, this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Keyauna: Was it like a feeling you had when you were on stage in front of everybody, just like, “It’s so comfortable.” ?
Maya: Yes, I was definitely like, “I really feel like I can just open up and be myself,” and really, I just love crowd participation, so anytime that I can perform and there’s a lot of audience that’s really with me, I get my life every time, because I just live for that. It’s like an adrenaline rush, performing, and having people sing along with you. It’s just an indescribable feeling. Especially when it’s really good, too, and people love it.
Keyauna: Do you write your own lyrics? I read that you write your songs yourself.
Maya: Yes, I write all of my own music, and if I don’t write it, all me, it’s co-written, but I always try to have input. I definitely need my songs to have a piece of me. So I always, always make sure that I’m writing and staying creative. I’m always trying to make sure, like, “Hey, what would make a great song? What am I trying to talk about?” and just go from there. It’s all about the vibe.
Keyauna: Do you have to have a certain feeling with the music? In the industry, people write for each other, and that’s fine, but I found the music I relate to the most is music that was written by the artist.
Maya: Yeah, it’s definitely the feeling, the … Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely other people that can get their vision across, but I would say the best songs to me, do have to come from the artist. That’s why I don’t understand artists who just don’t write at all. I could see if you get to a certain point where it’s like they’re just too busy to write, and people just sell you songs and they’re like, “Okay, I like this, I like that,” but it is so important to have a little bit of yourself in the music. It’s like a therapy. Me talking about my situations, or even what my friends are going through, that’s what’s going to relate to the audience. You just got to keep it you. Keep it genuine.
Keyauna: You’ve performed all over the country. Talk about some places and some of your favorite performances you’ve done so far.
Maya: It’s so funny. I was just talking about this performance today. I have two great moments. The first great moment was when I opened up my homecoming concert at Morgan State University, and I was actually able to share the stage with K. Michelle. I don’t even remember how it happened, but as soon as I finished opening up for her, she gets on stage, and she’s like, “I need someone to come up here,” something like that. I really don’t even remember, but I was nowhere to be found. I was backstage getting ready, I guess to enjoy the concert. I pretty much finished performing, so I was getting ready to just go out back into the audience and just enjoy the concert.
Somehow I end up on stage, and I got to perform with her, one of her songs, I got the mic, and the crowd just went crazy, and I actually still have that footage, reliving that moment. Everyone in school was just like, “Wow, you really sang with K. Michelle?” They’re like, “You did such a great job. Your set was amazing,” and at that time I had just dropped a single. I was performing that, and just got a great reaction from the crowd.
It was just so amazing, and then the second favorite moment was when I got to sing … I actually sang a selection for Michelle Obama, with the Morgan State University Choir, but I actually did a solo. I got to perform for our first lady, and that was an experience that I’ll never forget, because, what? Our first lady is African American. We’ll ever probably see this for awhile, so I was just basking in the moment.
Keyauna: I’m sure. That does sound like a really … Like you said, a once in a lifetime kind of thing.
Keyauna: You’ve had some big moments already. What is something that you would love to happen in your career in the future? Do you have any collaborations you would love to do? Any specific people you’d like to perform in front of? What’s your dream moment, as far as performing?
Maya: My dream moment, honestly, I want to go on tour. I want to be a part of a nationwide tour with a bunch of major artists, and I guess ultimately the goal right now isn’t to be signed to a label, but it’s definitely to gain the exposure and, I guess, have the label seek me. That way when I do get a deal, I can pretty much make the deal for whatever I want all on my terms, because I’m just that popping.
Keyauna: You want a Drake situation, like how Drake had did it.
Maya: Yeah, yeah. I want a distribution deal, so I’m just going to work hard for that. I would love to be on tour, and, honestly, the only moment that I want to have is that when I’m performing, everyone in the audience, hundreds of thousands of people, know my song, and I can just cut off all the music and have them sing the entire thing. Not the entire thing, but a good portion of it. To me, I feel like that’s just success, being able to reach that many people. If I could physically see and be in the presence of me impacting other people’s lives, that’s just going to be a moment where I really die.
I get that on a smaller scale performing at different venues and opening up for different people, or whatever the case may be, but to have a moment where just the whole arena is there for you, and they’re singing all of your songs, they know it word-for-word … Probably know it more than you, because the artist … We forget words. We have so many songs that we perform and we’re doing, and I just want that moment where everyone can just sing a long, and it’s like hundreds. I just want a major, large scale. That’s making it in my eyes.
Keyauna: I can kind of understand that because I went to the Beyonce concert, and it’s like when she … Of course, she’s an amazing entertainer, performer and everything, but when she stops and she takes the mic and puts it to the crowd, everybody’s just singing the entire song. The energy is insane, so I could imagine exactly what you’re talking about.
Maya: Yes, and that’s what I … I’m sure she probably … It’s a humbling experience, because she’s probably like, “I can’t believe how many people know who I am.” I just want that moment where it’s like, “Wow, I’ve really been able to make a difference, and this many people are here for me?” I’m sure it’s a great feeling.
Keyauna: Right now, you have a bunch of performances coming up. I know from talking with your people, and you’re fitting this in today, but tell, if there’s anybody who is in the areas of where you’re going to perform, where will be seeing you in the next two weeks?
Maya: In the next two weeks I’ll actually be at Hampton University. I’m opening up their homecoming concert, and I’ll be opening up for Fetty Wap. Anyone who likes Fetty Wap …
Keyauna: That’s great.
Maya: Yeah, I’m excited about that. They actually reached out to me, I guess from my history with Morgan [State University], and just doing different things at Howard [University], and a few different shows that I’ve had, opening up for different people. They were like, “We need you for the Fetty show,” so I’ll be there October 8th. Actually right before that I’m doing EZ Street Showcase. I don’t know if you’re familiar with EZ Street, the radio personality, but he’s doing an event at Pure Lounge, and I’m one of the artists that will be performing there. That’ll be exciting. That’s October 4th.
Keyauna: As far as your inspirations go, who are you inspired by when you think about other songstresses that have come before you?
Maya: Who am I inspired by? That’s such a great question. Honestly, the greats. I’m definitely inspired by the Jacksons, and I’m inspired by Whitney Houston. Vocally she’s just amazing and I just hope to have half of the career that she’s had. Beyonce. I really live for her performance. She’s one artist that I could say you get your money’s worth when you see her, and even live, she just always sounds great. She’s just such a great role model, just for young women period. That’s something that I aspire to be, because my platform is girl power.
I’m definitely all about girls and it’s inspiring, uplifting, and people with low self-esteem, We need that one person that’s going to tell you that you’re beautiful if you’re not strong enough to say it for yourself. Anyway, this definitely would be the Jacksons, Whitney Houston, Beyonce. Who else? Oh my gosh, there’s definitely one more person. Jazmine Sullivan, I think she’s a great songwriter. She has a lot of dope lyrics.
Keyauna: She is dope. She really is. I love her songwriting. The words to her songs are always amazing.
Maya: Super amazing. All the time.
Keyauna: Some people find their talent later on in life, but because you found out what you wanted to do when you were at a much younger age, how has it impacted your life to be able to follow your dreams and your purpose this entire time?
Maya: Honestly, it’s been a roller coaster, for the simple fact that I have known what I’ve wanted to do with my entire life. It’s been a blessing, yet it’s been, not … I wouldn’t say a curse, but almost just kind of scary, because as you get older you realize things that were … Just places like a child, or anything that happened while you were younger … When you grow up, things change, so me still fighting for all these years … Not to say that I’m fifty years old. I’m only twenty-two. I’m only twenty-two but I’ve been working at this my entire life.
If anything, it motivates me because I know that I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. There’s really nothing else that I feel like doing, so that’s kind of scary because as I get older, you look at the years that pass you by and it’s like, “Oh, it’s not happening anymore.” You think it’s happening or other people around you think it’s happening, but you don’t see it, but you’re making it. Just because I don’t see where I’m going to be just yet- I’m not where I want to be just yet- doesn’t mean that it’s not happening. It doesn’t mean that this isn’t all a part of my story. I feel like not only I wanted to do it, it definitely made me stronger as well. It’s kind of scary. This is scary.
I would say it’s definitely a blessing, though, to know at a young age. I’ve always been focused. My whole life. Anybody that knows me knows singing is what I’ve been known for. Middle school, high school, college, and now I’m getting ready to graduate college in May, so it’s like, “What’s next?” Now it’s time to conquer the world, because I’ve done- all throughout school, my entire life, XYZ, now what really matters, it’s time to show and prove. Now there’s no excuses. School will not be an excuse for me anymore as to why I can’t discuss things. It won’t get in the way of what I really want to do.
Keyauna: Now it’s like you’re approaching the time period where it’s just like you have the ability twenty-four seven to go after your dream. That’s a blessing, because if people everyday who would just not have to worry about going to work or do other things, or being in school, and to be able to devote your time…it’s a really great thing.
Maya: Thank you. It’s been super hard. There’s been so many times that I’ve wanted to leave school but it’s like, I want to have something to show for, for these last four years that I’ve been in school, and then I feel like it’ll help my story just to express to other artists, “Take time to enjoy your life. Get an actual college experience. Get a education, because you have all your life to chase your dreams, and it doesn’t mean that school is really going to stop you. Yes, school’s going to get in the way of certain things, but you know, school is only for a certain amount of time. You have all of your life to go to auditions and XYZ, just knock school out.”
That’s definitely something that I will advocate moving forward, is education, because I don’t regret anything that I did. I’m in a college that’s helping with my networking so much. If I didn’t come to college you wouldn’t see me performing at Hampton’s homecoming. You wouldn’t see me doing half of the things that I’m doing now, because I was able to build relationships with the people that I’ve met here, and really flourish and know myself, and to experience different things as a young woman that helps the writing. I’ve had some experiences of college where it’s definitely helped my music, and helped me get through some things. I really wouldn’t take nothing back.
I’m just happy to be finishing. Not to say I’m about to push for a master’s or a doctor or anything, but this little bachelor’s or whatever, this is something cute to say, “I did it”. This is something that I can add to the list. I’m a well rounded individual, here you go. I’m living my life.
Keyauna: That is really good to have, because a lot of kids see the main fortune, and for you to think education is important is really, really good. You talked about the Jacksons. Michael clearly wished he had more of a childhood and was not thrown into entertainment the way he was, so you’ve been able to embrace for you an education and things before going head first, is really good.
Maya: Thank you. That’s a great point, too. He definitely did say he wished he had more of a childhood. Child stars, and all of that starting so early, it’s just so hard to keep up with.
Keyauna: Like you said, being more well rounded helps as well, so I think you’re on a really good track, and hopefully everything will play out the way you like. One more question for you before we go. Where do you see yourself in the next three to five years?
Maya: In the next three to five years I definitely see myself signed to a label. I feel like I’ll be on tour. I’ll have my first album out and I’ll be touring. I might even be on Empire lol. I don’t know.
Keyauna: Hey, big dreams, man.
Maya: Yeah. I act as well. Performing arts. Growing up I used to do a lot of school plays and things of that nature, so I want to embrace acting later on, but I’m definitely tunnel vision with my music. That’s my first love. I just definitely see myself signed. Maybe a few recurring roles in Empire, and touring. Performing. I just want to be performing. I just want to be making timeless music, and just living my life. Definitely, probably signed.
Keyauna: That all sounds good, and I wish you the best of success, a multitude of success, and all the things that your heart desire, all the things that God has for you. I hope that all comes to be for you.
Maya: Thank you so much. I really appreciate that.