Tour Tales | April Lawrence is one of the secret weapons making sure Mya’s live shows run smoothly
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Mya’s road manager-in-training discusses what it’s like to be on the road with the veteran singer, and more.
April Lawrence has spent most of the last six years as Mya’s assistant and road manager-in-training, making sure nothing stops the singer’s shows from going on as planned.
“Mya and her dancers perform in heels. One night [during an outdoor festival, it rained]. I got out there with three towels in each hand, and I got down on the stage while they were performing to wipe it down because that’s not something anybody else will jump out there and do,” Lawrence told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” she explains the interesting way she landed a job with the R&B veteran, how detail-oriented Mya is when it comes to her live performances and more.
How did you connect with Mya?
I’m from North Carolina, and I moved to D.C. in 2016. The week I moved, I went to a show at Howard Theater, and that’s where we met. We met through an Instagram contest I won. After the show, I expressed my interest in working in live music. She invited me on board as an assistant. From there, things took off.
What was the first show you worked on together?
My first show was a performance of hers in D.C. I was doing all of the running around –the grocery store and Best Buy runs. I was filling in all of the holes. Once I showed who I was as a person and how detail-oriented I am, those are some of the attributes an artist wants. That’s where it took off. That D.C. show was three months after we first met. She’s all around the world, so she reached out to me when she returned to town to check my availability.
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How has your role within the team evolved over the last six years?
Within that first few years, it was strictly assistant work. It didn’t change until I expressed interest in taking on more responsibility on the road, as far as training to become a road manager. Taking on those larger responsibilities has been amazing. I still do both (laughs). I also shoot behind-the-scenes videos and photos for live show preparation, band, and choreography rehearsals. No official title for that. I guess you can call it content-in-training.
What is your day-to-day like when Mya is on tour?
I’ll make sure the crew members are where they need to be. It could be dancers, backup singers, DJs or anybody that’s part of the show. I make sure they are where they need to be so she can do what she needs to do. I work out the final details, like booking rehearsal spaces, are taken care of beforehand so things can go smoothly.
What is Mya’s direction to the team regarding her live shows?
Mya cares about every little detail. She is the most focused and professional artist I’ve ever met and worked with. She leads the creative direction for her live music. She picks crew members strategically. Once she lets us know the vision, we carry it out.
What are some of the issues you’ve had to handle at her live shows?
I’m technically an assistant and road manager-in-training. There have been times when we’re doing a show at an outdoor event, and it starts raining. Mya and her dancers perform in heels. One night I got out there with three towels in each hand, and I got down on the stage while they were performing to wipe it down because that’s not something anybody else will jump out there and do. That was in the middle of the show. It didn’t take me more than a second to find those towels to get down and wipe that stage. I’m going to do whatever it takes to make sure the show is running smoothly. If there are holes on the stage, I’ll get down with masking tape to tape them so their heels don’t slip into one. I’m paying attention to any little thing — that’s what keeps things running smoothly.
What is a typical Mya show like?
It’s electrifying. Not only are you going to get the classics, but you’re also going to get those moments where she does new music, which she has plenty of. You’re going to get a lot of choreography. You’re going to get a lot of vocals. She is never not singing live. So you’re going to get all of her. Anyone who hasn’t seen her live should do so.
Which of her performances were most memorable for you?
One of our Pride Festival performances. Those festivals bring out so many different types of people. The energy is unmatched. Mya is the type of artist who will make sure to meet everyone at her meet-and-greets. She’s the type of artist who doesn’t turn down photos. She’s very kind and sweet. That’s what you would want from an artist.
The 2019 “R&B Royalty Concert” with Mya, Jagged Edge, Ginuwine, Carl Thomas and 112 was one of her most incredible performances. What was the camaraderie like backstage?
It was beautiful. It’s always lovely to see those legends interacting. At a show like that it’s packed out, so you can feel the energy backstage. When legends like that link up, it’s beautiful. I was able to say hello to some of those artists I had never met before.
The road is where artists and their crews become closer. What are some bonding moments you’ve shared?
Mya is the type of artist who is extremely kind and thoughtful, so there is never a time when she forgets a crew member’s birthday, for example. If we’re out on the road and a crew member isn’t there, we’ll create a video to send to them. We’ll also get gifts for crew members.
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Have you seen any interesting interactions between Mya and her fans at shows?
I’ve seen fans bring cassettes, CDs and posters they bought at stores in the 90s. It’s always amazing to see people have kept those things for so long for her to autograph.
What songs of hers get the biggest reactions?
All of her hits make the fans go nuts. Hearing the crowd’s reactions is beautiful. She has plenty of new music, but it’s the hits that a lot of people are really looking to hear.
What is on Mya’s rider?
The consistent items are cold-pressed juice and really good vegan snacks.
How does Mya being a vegan affect what the team eats on the road? Do you all subscribe to a vegan lifestyle?
Some of us do, and some of us don’t. I’ll always make sure we find highly rated vegan restaurants in the area. I love fresh-pressed juice myself. Finding vegan spots and fresh produce is key. Crew members will find their way outside of the vegan stuff (laughs).
What is your greatest contribution to Mya’s shows?
My attention to detail. A lot of people say they have that, but I know that’s how I operate. No detail is too small. The things that can be overlooked, I check for. Those are the things that make sure the show runs smoothly.
What’s coming up for 2022?
Mya is always working and has things going on — more touring and hopefully a project this year. For me, I’m still finding my way in the music industry, and I’m very hopeful for the future. I hope to get on a Vegas residency or do some international travel. Those are some of my goals for this year and going forward. I love live music.
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