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Mýa

Mýa attending "Susan G. Komen's 8th Annual Fashion For The Cure" event - Hollywood, CA on September 24, 2009
Background information
Birth name Mýa Marie Harrison
Born October 10, 1979 (1979-10-10) (age 30)
Washington, D.C., United States
Genres Pop, R&B
Occupations Singer–songwriter, record producer, actress, dancer, choreographer
Instruments Vocals, violin
Years active 1998–present
Labels Interscope, Motown, Manhattan
Associated acts Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Pink, Missy Elliott, Dru Hill, Silkk the Shocker, Sisqó
Website www.myamya.com

Mýa Marie Harrison (born October 10, 1979), who performs under the mononym as Mýa, 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" featuring Sisqo.[1]

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 Mýa's breakthrough hit, reaching number-one on the Australian Singles Chart.[1] 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).[1]

The singer's third album, Moodring, was released in July 2003 stateside and certified Gold by the RIAA.[1] Following several label changes, Mýa'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.[2]

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.[3]

Harrison was the runner up on the ninth season of Dancing with the Stars.[4] Billboard named Mýa the 97th Hot 100 Artists of 2000s.[5]

Contents

Early life

Named after writer Maya Angelou, Mýa 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.[6] 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. Mýa 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 Mýa for a solo spot in a dance performance at the Kennedy Center.

With a black father and a mother of Italian descent, Mýa sometimes had to endure insensitive comments about her ethnic background. Her accomplishments as a dancer, however, helped Mýa 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, Mýa 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, Mýa 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, Mýa got herself a management deal which led to a recording contract with University and its major-label affiliate, Interscope Records. Mýa 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 recording studio.[7]

Recording career

1997–1999: Mýa (debut album)

Mýa released her self-titled, double-platinum debut album, Mýa, 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 Mýa's self titled debut was certified platinum on October 1, 1998. The album garnered Mýa 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, Mýa 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.

2000–2001: Fear of Flying

Fear of Flying is a metaphor for the ups and downs of life. It's about handling things like an adult, knowing you must have faith to make anything happen."

—Mýa, Billboard

On April 25, 2000, Mýa 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 Mýa'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, Mýa confronts her man about an old lover who will not go away. "Case of the Ex" became Mýa'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 Mýa 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 Mýa launching her career into superstardom. Fear of Flying hit nearly as hard as Mýa's debut, remaining on Billboard 200 for 52 consecutive weeks.[8]

In May 2001, Mýa 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.[9] 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 Mýa 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. Mýa 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.

2002–2003: Moodring

Mýa at the 2003 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City

After the release and success of Fear of Flying, Mýa 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, Mýa 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". Mýa 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, Mýa 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 Mýa’s previous effort first-week sales. Originally titled Bittersweet, Moodring display an array of different emotions exploring Mýa’s playful and sexual side. The majority of Moodring was co-written and co-produced by Mýa 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 Mýa 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, Mýa posed for Maxim magazine; her pictorial is featured on their Girls of Maxim gallery.[10] She was also a model for King magazine. Mýa has also appeared in various print ads.

2004–2008: Liberation and Sugar & Spice

Mýa 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.[11] Although she intended to release a dance track called "Let It Go" at a particular time,[12] the singer eventually decided to leave her management and A&M Records in fall 2005 before signing a new contract with Motown Records.[13] Mýa 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.[14] Due to time-consuming "litigations, court, transitioning from label to label, teaching kids [at the Mya Art & Tech Foundation] and building a [recording] studio" however, the song was never picked up as a single and the album's release was pushed back again.[14] 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,[15] 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.[16]

In 2008, Mýa 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.[17] 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."

2009-present: Beauty & the Streets Vol.1 and 6th Studio Album

Almost a year later, Mýa 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 Mýa 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.[18][19] Mýa was invited to be a featured guest vocalist on We Are the World 25 for Haiti. She will be releasing Love Is The Answer the international themesong for the NOH8 campaign via Ultra Records in 2010-a high octane dance anthem produced by Sandy Vee and Cedric Gervais and currently putting the finishing touches on her eagerly anticiapated new album and working on her tour.[20]

Artistry

Voice

Harrison is a mezzo-soprano with a four-octave range.[21] Her voice is best described as soft, mellow, strong, clear, assured, and whispery.[22][23][24] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic commented that Mýa 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.[25][26][27] 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."[28] Rolling Stone stated "The signature quiver in Mýa'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."[29] During an interview with Billy Johnson Jr of Yahoo! Music in 2003, Mýa 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.[24]"

Songwriting and Producing

Since the beginning of her career, Mýa 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.[30][31] 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.[24][32]

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.[31][33][34]

Stage

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 Mýa 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 performers.[35][36][37]

Influences

Mýa's musical influences include Sade Adu, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Prince, Chaka Khan, Minnie Riperton and Madonna. Mýa 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. Mýa 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."[38][39][40]

Mýa'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.[39]

She cites Lena Horne and Liza Minnelli as role models.[40]

Acting career

Mýa 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, Mýa 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 Mýa a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance.[41] 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 $170,128,460 worldwide.[42][43]

In early 2005, Mýa 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, Mýa 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 Mýa a nomination at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards for Best Frightened Performance.[44] Her next film, the Bill Duke-directed Cover, Mýa 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.[45] In 2008, Mýa had a starring role in the direct-to-dvd romantic comedy film Love For Sale. Mýa played a college student named Kiely in a bad relationship. The film was released to DVD on October 21, 2008.

Dancing With the Stars

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.

Performances

Week Dance/Song Carrie Ann's
Score
Len's/Baz's
Score
Bruno's
Score
Result
1 Viennese Waltz/"Vision of Love" 8 5 8 Safe
1 Cha-Cha-Cha Relay/"Centerfold" Awarded 10 Points Safe
2 Jive/"Would You...?" 9 9 9 Safe
3 Rumba/"Underneath Your Clothes" 10 7 10 Safe
4 Lambada/"Ain't It Funny" 10 8 10 Safe
5 Argentine Tango/"They" 9 9 9 Safe
5 Hustle Group Dance/"Do the Hustle" N/A N/A N/A N/A
6 Jitterbug/"C'mon Everybody" 8 7 9 Safe
6 Mambo Marathon/"Ran Kan Kan" Awarded 9 Points Safe
7 Foxtrot/"Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby" 9 7 9 Safe
7 Team Paso Doble/"I Hate Myself for Loving You" 8 8 8 Safe
8 Quickstep/"Baby Wants a Diamond Ring" 9 10 10 Safe
8 70's Samba/"Bad Girls" 10 10 10 Safe
9 Waltz/"Amore e Musica" 9 9 10 Safe
9 Salsa/"La Isla Bonita" 10 10 10 Safe
9 Cha-Cha-Cha/"Fire Burning" 9 10 10 Safe
10 Paso Doble/"We Will Rock You" 10 10 10 Runner-Up
10 Megamix/"You and Me", "Whenever, Wherever", "Maniac" Awarded 30 Points Runner-Up
10 Freestyle/"You Can't Stop the Beat" 9 9 9 Runner-Up
10 Jive/"Would You...?" Awarded 28 Points Runner-Up

Philanthropy

As a philanthropist, Mýa continues to devote her time and resources to various causes. From 1998 to 2001, she became the spokesperson for Secret to Self Esteem. In 2005, Mýa founded TMATF: The Mya Arts & Tech Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing disadvantaged youth growth and opportunity through arts & technology education, where she serves as both executive director and teacher. Mýa is also an advocate of breast cancer as her mother is an 10 year survivor. In 2006 & 2007 she collaborated with the Lifetime Television Network in the Stop Breast Cancer for Life campaign, recording "My Bra" a song sold on iTunes donating 100% of proceeds to breast cancer research. In 2007, Mýa was also the internationally featured artist in Heatherette’s Fashion Show for LifeBall in Vienna, Austria to fight Global AIDS, hosted a fundraiser for Skool’d to aid homeless LGBT youth, and advocated gay rights by opening the Out 100 Awards.[46]

Discography

Tours

Filmography

Year Title Role
1999 In Too Deep Loretta
2002 Chicago Mona
2003 Volcano High Yu Cha-i
2004 Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights Lola Martinez
Hip Hop All Stars Herself
Shall We Dance? Vern's Fiancée
2005 Cursed Jenny Tate
NCIS Samantha/Jade King
2006 Swap Meet Katrina
Ways of the Flesh Valerie
2007 The Metrosexual Jessica
2008 Cover Cynda
Love For Sale Kiely
Penthouse Mitra
2009 Dancing with the Stars Herself/contestant (2nd place)

Awards and nominations

References

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  38. ^ http://new.music.yahoo.com/mya/news/mya-cites-sammy-davis-jr-stevie-wonder-as-influences--12032142
  39. ^ a b http://www.panachereport.com/channels/hip%20hop%20gallery/MyaInterview.htm
  40. ^ a b http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2003/09/07/PK176407.DTL&type=printable
  41. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=chicago.htm
  42. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=dirtydancing2.htm
  43. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=shallwedance.htm
  44. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=cursed.htm
  45. ^ http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1809953173/details
  46. ^ http://www.reverbnation.com/myamusic?eid=411571_2294546

External links








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