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Mya 1979–

Mya 1979

Performer

Trained as Dancer and Singer

High-Profile Collaborations

Continued to Score Successes

Selected discography

Sources

For any performer, earning two platinum albums, a number-one single, and a Grammy Award within the space of three years is an accomplishment. For Mya, who began her string of successes while she was still in her teens, the feat is even more remarkable. Training as a dancer throughout her childhood, Mya did not begin to train as a singer until her father, a musician himself, noticed that his adolescent daughter had a remarkable voice. After high school, a short-lived stint at the University of Maryland gave way to a recording contract, guest vocals on tracks by some of the hottest hip-hop stars of the day, and her debut album, Mya, in 1998. The album eventually went platinum and proved to be a precursor to even greater successes for the young performer. Through it all, Mya projected a down-to-earth image in contrast with some of the other young stars of hip hop. She remarked in an interview with Jeff Lorez of the Launch Music website, I havent experienced that much. There are things Im not ready to share with people, and I dont want to seem phony. How can you talk about boyfriends and relationships on a record, but then every time I hear you in an interview, youre talking about how lonely you are and youre single? I dont want that to be me.

Trained as Dancer and Singer

Named after writer Maya Angelou, Mya Marie Harrison was one of three children born to Sherman and Theresa Harrison 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. Mya 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 Mya for a solo spot in a dance performance at the Kennedy Center.

With an African-American father and a mother of Italian descent, Mya sometimes had to endure insensitive comments about her ethnic background. Her accomplishments

At a Glance

Born Mya Marie Harrison on October 10, 1979, in Washington, D.C.; daughter of Sherman and Theresa Harrison. Education: Completed high school in Maryland; attended University of Maryland at College Park.

Career: Recording artist: Its All About Me (single, with Sisqo), 1998; Mya (album), 1998; Fear of Flying (album), 2000; Lady Marmalade (single, with Missy Elliot, Christina Aguilera, Pink, and Lil Kim), 2001.

Awards: Recording Industry Association of America, platinum album, 1998, for Mya; Recording Industry Association of America, gold single, 1998, for Its All About Me; Recording Industry Association of America, platinum album, 2001, for Fear of Flying; Grammy Award, Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, for Lady Marmalade, 2002. August 28, 2002

Addresses: Record company Interscope Records, 2220 Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90404. Website http://www.myamya.com

as a dancer, however, helped Mya to make the transition into adolescence and deal with the peer pressure that many teenagers experience. As she explained in an appearance on Canadas Much Music television show in January of 2001, There was a time in my life when I wasnt popular and accepted by kids in school. I was made fun of with braces and kinky hair, and being from a multicultural family, et cetera. And it really hurts when youre 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, Mya 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.

High-Profile Collaborations

While she continued to study dance and appeared on Teen Summit on the Black Entertainment Television network, Mya 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. After an audition in the living room of University Music Entertainment president Haqq Islam, Mya got herself a management deal which led to a recording contract with University and its major-label affiliate, Interscope Records. Mya finished high school when she was 17 years old and subsequently took a few classes at the University of Maryland in College Park, but the teenagers primary focus was on the recording studio.

Her self-titled debut, released in April of 1998, included songs by Kenneth Babyface Edmonds, Diane Warren, and Missy Misdemeanor Elliot, as well as four compositions coauthored by Mya herself. The first single from Mya, Its All About Me, went into the pop top 40 in July 1998 and earned a gold record for selling over one million copies. That summer Mya also appeared on the single Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are) with Pras Michel of the Fugees and Ol Dirty Bastard. Included on the soundtrack to the film Bull-worth, the song earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. At the end of the year Mya appeared on another high-profile track, Take Me There, with BLACKstreet and Mase. The song appeared on the Rugrats soundtrack and was used in a Burger King commercial. When it hit the top ten on the pop charts in early 1999, Mya earned even greater exposure. In addition to her recording duties, Mya appeared on the Smokin Grooves and Lilith Fair tours in 1998 and 1999. She also took on a small role in the Omar Epps movie In Too Deep, which was released in 1999.

Continued to Score Successes

Like Mya, which eventually earned a platinum record for sales of over one million copies, Myas second album, Fear of Flying, enlisted the help of several notable musicians, including Wyclef Jean, Lisa Left Eye Lopes, and reggae star Beenie Man. Released in April of 2000, Fear of Flying benefited from Myas first major solo hit, Case of the Ex (Watcha Gonna Do), which eventually went to number two on the pop charts by the end of the year. Another single, Free, also hit the top 20 in early 2001 and helped Fear of Flying to earn Mya her second platinum record.

Although many of the tracks on Fear of Flying covered the same romantic themes that were featured on Mya, her second album presented a more mature perspective, as Mya explained in an interview for MTV.com. Theres nothing wrong with being a female and wanting to be sexual or physical, thats perfectly normal, she told the channel. But the things [sic] that we have to deal with after the fact is stuff we should really sometimes think about before we let it all happen. Demonstrating some naivete, however, Mya insisted that the title of the album had nothing to do with Erica Jongs 1973 erotic novel of the same name.

In June of 2001 Mya released a remake of the Patti LaBelle song Lady Marmalade with Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil Kim, and Missy Elliot. Included on the soundtrack to Moulin Rouge, the song gained the number one spot on the pop charts in June of 2001 and earned the artists a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the ceremony in February of 2002. The video for the track also created a stir for the performers provocative outfits, which played off the movies setting in a bordello. In addition to planning her next album, Mya also accepted a role in the movie version of the musical Chicago.

Selected discography

Mya, Interscope Records, 1998.

Fear of Flying, Interscope Records, 2000.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, April 11, 1998, p. 21; March 18, 2000, p. 28.

People, July 9, 2001, p. 118.

Q, October 2000.

Time, May 8, 2000, p. 92.

On-line

Launch Music, http://www.launch.yahoo.com/read/feature.asp?contentID=157822 (April 16, 2000).

MTV, http://www.mtv.com/bands/archive/rn/mya00index2.jhtml (2000).

Much Music, http://www.muchmusic.com/transcripts/mya01.html (January 22, 2001).

Recording Industry Association of America, http://www.riaa.com (2002).

Rock on the Net, http://www.rockonthenet.com/artists-m/mya.htm (2002).

Timothy Borden

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Mya 1979(?)–

MYA 1979(?)–

(M. Harrison, Mya Harrison)

PERSONAL

Full name, Mya Marie Harrison; born October 10, 1979 (some sources cite October 11 or 1980), in Washington, DC; daughter of Sherman (a musician and singer) and Theresa (an accountant) Harrison. Education: Briefly attended University of Maryland at College Park; studied tap dancing with Savion Glover.

Addresses: Agent—United Talent Agency, 9560 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 500, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Manager—Benny Medina, Handprint Entertainment, 1100 Glendon Ave., Suite 1000, Los Angeles, CA 90024. Contact—c/o Interscope Records, 10900 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024.

Career: Actress, singer, and songwriter. Performed as a singer with the Moulin Rouge Girls; performed on tour, including appearances with Smokin' Grooves, 1998, and Lilith Fair, 1999. Began career as tap dancer, including appearances at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington DC, Lincoln Center, New York City, and Shakespeare Theatre; performed as a dancer with Tappers with Attitude; taught dancing lessons to children. Appeared in commercials, including one for Coca-Cola soft drinks, 2003; affiliated with Pantene Pro-Voice Program. Secret to Self Esteem, past member of advisory board.

Awards, Honors: Platinum album certification, Recording Industry Association of America, 1998, for Mya; gold single certification, Recording Industry Associa-tion of America, 1998, for "It's All about Me;" platinum album certification, 2001, for Fear of Flying; MTV Video Music Award, best video, 2001, and Grammy Award, best pop collaboration with vocals (with Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, and Pink), National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 2002, both for "Lady Marmalade;" Screen Actors Guild Award, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, and Phoenix Film Critics Society Award nomination, all best acting ensemble (with others), 2003, for Chicago; Triumph of the Spirit Award, Aviva Family and Children's Services, 2004; MTV Movie Award nomination, "best frightened performance," 2005, for Cursed; Grammy Award nomination, best rap performance by a duo or group, for "Ghetto Superstar," Bulworth.

CREDITS

Film Appearances:

Loretta, In Too Deep, Miramax/Dimension Films, 1999.

Voice of Yu Cha-I (Jade) in English version, Whasango (also known as Volcano High and Hwasan High-school), Twentieth Century-Fox Home Entertainment, 2001.

(As Mya Harrison) Mona, Chicago, Humax Pictures/Miramax, 2002.

(As Harrison) Lola Martinez, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (also known as Dirty Dancing 2), Lions Gate Films, 2004.

(As Harrison), Vern's fiance, Shall We Dance, Miramax, 2004.

Jenny, Cursed, Dimension Films, 2005.

Valerie, Ways of the Flesh, One-Twenty, 2005.

Film Work; Song Performer:

(With others) "Ghetto Superstar," Bulworth, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1998.

"Take Me There," The Rugrats Movie (animated), Paramount, 1998.

"Lady Marmalade," Moulin Rouge!, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2001.

"Where the Dream Takes You," Atlantis: The Lost Empire (animated), Buena Vista, 2001.

"Fallen," A Cinderella Story, Warner Bros., 2004.

Television Appearances; Series:

Hip-hop dancer, Teen Summit, Black Entertainment Television, 1996.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Teen People's 21 Hottest Stars Under 21, ABC, 1999.

Teen People's 25 Hottest Stars Under 25, ABC, 2000.

Fashionably Loud 2000, MTV, 2000.

MTV Icon: Janet Jackson, MTV, 2001.

Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration, CBS, 2001.

An American Celebration at Ford's Theatre, ABC, 2001.

The Disco Ball … A 30-Year Celebration, ABC, 2003.

MTV Bash: Carson Daly, MTV, 2003.

Lifetime's 4th Annual Women Rock! Songs from the Movies, Lifetime, 2003.

A Home for the Holidays, CBS, 2003.

Real Access: Hot 24 in 2004, Noggin, 2003.

Maxim Hot 100, NBC, 2003.

(In archive footage) 40 Most Awesomely Bad Dirty Songs … Ever, 2004.

Interviewee, Maxim Hot 100, VH1, 2004.

Forever in Our Hearts: The Making of Documentary, 2005.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

The 4th Annual Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, syndicated, 1998.

The 1998 MTV Video Music Awards, MTV, 1998.

Presenter, The 30th NAACP Image Awards, Fox, 1999.

The 13th Annual Soul Train Music Awards, syndicated, 1999.

Presenter, The 43rd Annual Grammy Awards, CBS, 2001.

Presenter, The 28th Annual American Music Awards, ABC, 2001.

(With the Moulin Rouge Girls) 2001 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 2001.

The 2001 Teen Choice Awards, Fox, 2001.

Host, The 15th Annual Soul Train Music Awards, syndicated, 2001.

1st Annual BET Awards, Black Entertainment Television, 2001.

Presenter, MTV Video Music Awards 2001, MTV, 2001.

The 44th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS, 2002.

Presenter, The 30th Annual American Music Awards, ABC, 2003.

2003 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 2003.

2003 Much Music Video Music Awards, Much Music, 2003.

3rd Annual BET Awards, Black Entertainment Television, 2003.

Presenter, MTV Video Music Awards, MTV, 2003.

The GQ Men of the Year Awards (also known as Spike TV Presents GQ Men of the Year Awards 2003), Spike, 2003.

2003 Vibe Awards: Beats, Style, Flavor, UPN, 2003.

The 19th Annual Soul Train Music Awards, The WB, 2005.

The Third Annual TV Land Awards: A Celebration of Classic TV, TV Land, 2005.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

I Love the '80s, VH1, 2002.

The Blues, PBS, 2003.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Herself, "FreakNik," Sister, Sister, The WB, 1999.

Herself, "All That Live," All That, Nickelodeon, 1999.

Voodoo priestess, "Abby," Haunted, UPN, 2002.

(As Mya Harrison) Kira, "Pop Star," 1-800-Missing (also known as Missing), Lifetime, 2004.

Jade King, "Pop Life," Navy NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service, CBS, 2005.

Television Guest Appearances; Episodic:

Much Music, 2001.

"Lady Marmalade," Making the Video, MTV, 2001.

The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, CBS, 2003.

Passions, NBC, 2003.

Mad TV, Fox, 2003.

Punk'd, MTV, 2003.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC, 2004.

It's Showtime at the Apollo, syndicated, 2005.

Soul Train, 2005.

Also appeared in episodes of Music in High Places, MTV; Pepsi Smash, The WB; and The Wayne Brady Show, ABC.

RECORDINGS

Albums:

Mya, Interscope Records, 1998.

Fear of Flying, Interscope Records, 2000.

(And coproducer) Moodring, Interscope Records, 2003.

Singles include (with Sisqo) "It's All about Me," Interscope Records, 1998; "Movin' On," Interscope Records, 1998; "My First Night with You," Interscope Records, 1999; "Best of Me," 2000; "Case of the Ex," Interscope Records, 2000; "Free," Wea International, 2001; "Free, Part 2," Universal International, 2001; "Fallen," A&M, 2003; "My Love Is like What," Universal International, 2003; and "My Love Is Like … Wo/No Sleep Tonight," Interscope Records, 2003.

Albums Contributor to Soundtrack Recordings:

Bulworth, Interscope Records, 1998.

Rugrats, Interscope Records, 1998.

Belly, Def Jam, 1998.

Life, Interscope Records, 1999.

Bait, Interscope Records, 2000.

Also performed for soundtrack recordings of Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Moulin Rouge!

Videos:

Voice of Mya Starling, James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing (video game; also known as Everything or Nothing), Electronic Arts, 2004.

Freestyle (with Brian Friedman), Lions Gate Films, 2004.

Music videos include "Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)" by Pras Michael, 1998; "Dreams" by the Game; "Girls Dem Sugar" by Beenie Man; and "Somebody like Me" by Silkk the Shocker.

WRITINGS

Songs Featured in Films:

Belly, Xscapade Pictures, 1998.

(As M. Harrison) "Free," Bait (also known as Piege), Warner Bros., 2000.

"Get Up," Biker Boyz, DreamWorks, 2003.

Albums; Songwriter; With Others:

Fear of Flying, Interscope Records, 1998.

Moodring, Interscope Records, 2000.

OTHER SOURCES

Books:

Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 35, Gale, 2002.

Contemporary Musicians, Volume 32, Gale, 2001.

Periodicals:

Billboard, April 11, 1998, p. 21; March 18, 2000, p. 28.

Ebony, September, 1999, p. 56.

Entertainment Weekly, April 28, 2000, p. 110.

Honey, June-July, 2000.

Interview, March, 1999.

Jane, May, 2000.

People Weekly, April 24, 2000, p. 43; July 9, 2001, p. 118.

Q, October, 2000, p. 124.

Rolling Stone, June 11, 1998, p. 37.

Seventeen, November, 1999, pp. 114-117.

Teen People, June, 1998, pp. 100-101; June, 1999, p. 69; June, 2000, p. 94; May, 2001, p. 92.

Time, May 8, 2000, p. 92.

Electronic:

Mya Official Site, http://www.myamya.com, August 24, 2005.

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Mya

Mya

Singer

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

As her single The Case of the Ex (Whatcha Gonna Do) held at number two on the pop charts at the end of 2000, Mya Harrison did as much as any singer to define the soundand with her videos, the look of hip-hop pop at the millennium. With her triple-threat talents as a dancer, singer, and actress, as well as her record labels marketing campaign aimed to both hip-hop and popular audiences, Mya was poised to join contemporaries Brandi, Monica, and Aaliyah on her way to divadom, as a Time review noted. Emphasizing independence, self-respect, and equality in her lyrics along with more standard romantic themes, Mya had carefully managed the transition from teen hip-hop sensation to confident, adult vocalist.

Although she attained stardom as a teenager, Myas success was years in the making. Born in Washington, D.C., Myas family shortly thereafter moved to nearby Maryland. Mya remembered in an Interview profile by Dimitri Ehrlich that her father, a professional musician,was always traveling and singing at bar mitzvahs and weddings. While she took dance lessons from the age of 2, and at times appeared in dance competitions along with her brother, Mya aimed for an entertainment career in earnest after her debut as a 10 year old with the dance troupe Tappers With Attitude (T.W.A.). Mya subsequently studied with famed dance artist Savion Glover of the Dance Theater of Harlem during his dance residency in Washington, D.C. With Glovers encouragement, the young dancer even earned a solo spot during a dance performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, one of the most prestigious venues in the nation. Mya also appeared as a dancer on Black Entertainment Televisions Teen Summit.

Although Sammy Davis, Jr. was a major influence on her dancing technique, her own family inspired her to move in the direction of singing. I never looked at singing and dancing as a career, but my parents did. My entire family is musical, she told Rolling Stones Anthony Bozza. With her fathers assistance, 15-year-old Mya completed a demo tape and began looking for a record deal. Within a year, after auditioning for University Music Entertainment president Haqq Islam in his living room, Mya was signed to a recording contract. As she started to work on her first album, the 16 year old also took time to finish high school.

Proven hit-makers Kenneth Babyface Edmonds, Diane Warren, and Missy Misdemeanor Elliott were among the songwriters on the album Mya, with Mya herself sharing writing credits on four of the collections eleven tracks. Distributed by Interscope Records and released in May 1998, the debut eventually sold close to two million copies. The standout hit and first single from the album, Its All About Me, earned a gold record.

From the beginning, Interscope and University marketed Mya to urban, hip-hop fans, as well as to pop

For the Record

Born Mya Marie Harrison on October 10, 1980, in Washington, D.C.

Began dance lessons at the age of two; studied with Savion Glover at the Dance Theater of Harlem; at 16, with fathers assistance, demo tape secured a record contract; released first album, Mya, 1998; single Its All About Me from Mya certified as gold record; toured with Busta Rhymes, Cypress Hill, Public Enemy, and Gang Starr on the Smokin Grooves Tour, 1998; appeared on Ghetto Superstar single from the Bulworth soundtrack; took a supporting role in the film In Too Deep, 1999; toured with Lilith Fair, 1999; promoted Tommy Hilfgers Tommy Girl line of clothing; released second album, Fear of Flying, 2000.

Addresses: Record company Interscope Records, 2220 Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90404, http://www.interscope.com. Website Mya Official Website: http://www.myamya.com.

music listeners. To gain credibility with urban audiences as a performer, Mya toured (as the only female headliner) with Busta Rhymes, Cypress Hill, Public Enemy, and Gang Starr on the Smokin Grooves Tour in 1998. The guest appearance by Dru Hills Sisqo on her first hit, Its All About Me, also helped her win over young, predominantly African-American hip hop record buyers as a performer with street credibility. Myas videos, which showcased dance moves that she often choreographed herself, further highlighted her integrity as an all-around, original performer. Mya further honed these skills on the roster of the Lilith Fair tour in 1999, her second major outing on the road in support of her work.

To broaden her appeal beyond this initial fan base, Mya also made contributions to numerous soundtracks, including Bulworth, Rugrats, and Belly in 1998, Life in 1999, and Bait in 2000. The first of these outings, an appearance with Pras Michel of the Fugees and O.D.B. on the Bulworth track Ghetto Superstar was acknowledged by fans and reviewers alike as one of the sharpest hip-hop/rap singles of the year. The song subsequently earned a 1999 Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. Another soundtrack appearance, on BLACKstreets Take Me There, from the Rugrats movie, also broadened her appeal through its use in Burger King commercials tied to the films release. In the meantime, Mya took a small role in the Omar Epps-LL Cool J film In Too Deep, the story of an undercover police officers investigation of a drug ring. The film, released in 1999, received mixed notices; some reviewers were shocked by the graphic violence that it presented.

A well-received first album, several notable soundtrack appearances, and Myas reputation as an emerging superstar ensured that the stakes were high for her next album. Taking a more active role in the works production, Mya enlisted Lisa Left Eye Lopes of T.L.C., Wyclef Jean of the Fugees, and a host of top-notch producers in the effort, which was released in April of 2000. Like her first album, Fear of Flying showcased Myas smooth vocals in sophisticated arrangements, but this time emphasized a more mature outlook on the romantic themes covered in her debut. The album did not, however, have any connection with Erica Jongs Fear of Flying, a 1973 novel exploring explicit sexual themes. Instead, as Mya explained on her web site, The theme of the album displays that there will always be turbulent timesgood, bad, up, down. Despite our fears and insecurities, we must make a leap on faith alone.

A profile in Time appreciated Myas journey of personal and artistic growth reflected on the album, praising its hip-hop soul with plenty of pop appeal in the profile, Portrait of the Young Diva. The release also earned Album of the Week honors from People, which called it an unexpected treat, while British publication Q predicted enough sass to suggest a sunny future ahead for Mya. An Entertainment Weekly review, however, was less kind. Dismissing her sophomore effort as superficial, it noted, Mya can sing well enough; now she needs to find something to sing about.

Just four years after signing her recording contract, Mya had substantially achieved her goal of succeeding in both the R&B and pop fields. Indeed, helped by appearances on shows ranging from MTVs Total Request Live to Live with Regis, Case of the Ex (Whatcha Gonna Do) scored even higher on Billboards Hot 100 than it did on the R&B charts. With an acting career in the making and her accomplishments as a dancer and producer firmly established, Mya also fulfilled her own self-described ambition. As Mya told Billboards Anita Samuels, Im an entertainer. I want to give a show so people will come back.

Selected discography

Mya, Interscope, 1998.

(Contributor) Bulworth (soundtrack), Interscope, 1998.

(Contributor) Rugrats (soundtrack), Interscope, 1998.

(Contributor) Belly (soundtrack), Def Jam, 1998.

(Contributor) Life (soundtrack), Interscope, 1999.

Fear of Flying, Interscope, 2000.

(Contributor) Bait (soundtrack), Interscope, 2000.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, April 11, 1998, p. 21; March 18, 2000, p. 28.

Entertainment Weekly, April 28, 2000, 110.

Interview, March 1999, p. 67.

People, April 24, 2000, p. 43.

Q, October 2000, p. 124.

Rolling Stone, June 11, 1998, p. 37.

Time, May 8, 2000, p. 92.

Online

Mya Official Website, http://www.myamya.com/mya/bio/bio.html (January 11, 2001).

Rolling Stone, http//www.rollingstone.com (January 9, 2001).

Timothy Borden

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