“Before you can convince others that you are capable of accomplishing your goals and realizing your dreams, you have to totally believe in yourself and in those taking the journey with you. If you do that, you will ultimately ‘Prove Yourself True.” — PYT, 2001
Periodically the urban/pop landscape unearths that rare, youthful female vocal collective whose talent, beauty, charm, and showmanship explodes on the music scene, taking it and them to the next level. There’s no doubt that’s the 2001 fate of Epic’s fierce feminine rising stars PYT (Prove Yourself True), based in Tampa, Florida and boasting a unique blend of urban flavored pop, served on a multifaceted platter of potent leads, harmonic excellence and strong lyrics and production.
Now, after completing a triumphant national concert tour with pop superstars *NSYNC and Britney Spears, appearing as Mandy Moore’s “friends” in her hit video “Candy,” and imprinting their scintillating voices via “A Girl Can Dream,” on the Center Stage feature film soundtrack, PYT”s Lauren, Tracey, Lydia and Ashley unleash their debut album PYT (DOWN WITH ME). Featuring the lead single, “Same Ol’ Same Ol’,” produced by Beau Dozier (offspring of Lamont Dozier of Motown’s legendary production team Holland Dozier Holland), it’s an urban spiced, mid-tempo, radio friendly track, where the group’s all embracing harmony soars, and potent leads shine.
PYT’s CD pulsates with crafty production, golden voices, bomb beats, serious slow-jams and a plethora of male/female relationship scenarios, from, of course, a teenage perspective.
Each song depicts various levels of romance, a subject which the maturing PYT (average age 15) admits they’ve still got a lot to learn. “We may be young and inexperienced in the deeper aspects of the relationship game, but we know how it feels to really care about a guy, and the happiness and pain that goes with it,” says Tracy, whose awesome alto thrilled thousands when she sang the National Anthem at professional baseball games (Yankees, Braves), and (at 9 years of age) at the 1995 NBA playoffs. “When we sing about the different stages and problems about being in love, it’s coming from honest feeling and real emotion, not actual experience,” interjects Lydia, PYT’s golden-haired soprano, whose extensive background in musical theater (“The Sound of Music,” “Gypsy,” “South Pacific”), adds an even broader dimension to the fearless foursome’s vocal arsenal.
Excellent examples of PYT (DOWN WITH ME)’s uncanny ability to get to the heart of “matters of the heart” include the before mentioned “A Girl Can Dream,” a beautiful ballad about unrequited love and the unrelenting hope it often breeds; “Weak,” a fierce, female funk flow, punctuated by powerhouse PYT harmony and lush laser sharp leads, “Kissing Game,” a wonderful remake of the Hi-Five classic produced by Tony Battaglia, and proof positive of PYT’s range and versatility; “Yeah Yeah Yeah,” produced by the Co-Stars For NVP, and a high energy lover’s liberation story, charged with female empowerment, and delivered in a breathtaking staccato singing style; “You Don’t Know,” a delicious urban/pop trip down “wanna get with you” lane, candid in its message, tasteful in its execution; “Deep Down,” a melodic Big Mike, Sugar Baby production that unleashes PYT’s substantial R&B chops; and “PYT (Down With Me),” produced by the Mercenaries (with vocal production by Anthem), and a smooth, danceable urban/pop jam with certain crossover appeal. “It’s a song that gives people insight into who we are and what our name stands for,” says Lauren, who, in addition to PYT, also has stellar acting credits, including ABC’s “Guiding Light,” and PBS’s popular children’s series “The Reppies.”
“We tried to have something for everybody on the album, and I believe we succeeded,” Ashley, the group’s “power” voice, who, in addition to taking and sharing leads throughout the set, also does so on PYT’s concert-only rendition of En Vogue’s classic “Hold On””Who’s Lovin’ You,” which inevitably elicits standing ovations.
It’s only been three years since the talented young ladies embarked on their shared quest for recording success. Ironically, they’ve been friends since childhood. “Tracy, Lauren and I met when we were about five/six and we all performed in a local Tampa theater troupe,” Lydia recalls. “I joined when I was nine,” adds Ashley, whose gospel honed, soul soaked voice was so adored by late Florida Governor Lawton Childs, he personally chose her to sing at the Governor’s Mansion.
Over the years that followed, the girls individually developed their singing, acting and performing skills, amassing between them, impressive credits and experience in theater, television, radio, print, and musicals. “Looking back, it’s clear that we were all destined to be in PYT, because everything we did that led up to it made us prepared to handle it,” Lauren assures.
It was in the fall of 1998, after reading a magazine contest ad requesting tapes from unsigned vocal acts, that Lauren, Tracy, Lydia, and Ashley became PYT. “Once it was decided we’d do it, we vowed that nothing could stop us,” Tracy advises. “Although we took our name from the Michael Jackson ‘PYT (Pretty Young Thing)’ song, we felt we had to put our own stamp on it. Since ‘Prove Yourself True’ was a motto we believed in and lived by, that’s the name we chose.”
Fine-tuning their vocal style, stage presence and choreography, the group progressed, but not under any parental pressure. “Our parents encouraged us but didn’t push us,” Lydia reveals. “We asked them if we could do it,” Tracy affirms, “and then put this together ourselves!”
Making a short story shorter, the girls made a demo tape that their director sent to a friend in Los Angeles. Epic Records Group Executive VP of A&R and Urban Music, David McPherson, heard it, had them audition, and two days later they were signed to the label. The resulting phenomenal debut album, sums up the acronym that is their name and wise philosophy, as in what happens when you, Prove Yourself True. “We are so fortunate to be able to live our dream,” Lydia says a smile crossing her beautiful face. “We have the best managers, families, friends and a growing number of fans, who we’ll always give 100 per cent of ourselves — on stage, in the studio and in the positive way we try to live our lives. You see, it’s important for us to be good role models for our generation and generations to come.”
Anything but the “Same Ol’ Same Ol’,” PYT (DOWN WITH ME) is an honest, passionate, diverse collection of sizzling R&B/pop with a pinch of hip-pop/soul, that like TLC, En Vogue, and Destiny’s Child, has the potential to make PYT a group to be reckoned with. “We love and respect all of the great female groups that helped open the door for us,” Ashley concludes. “It’s simply our dream to make the worldwide impact they have, and to keep making the best music for our fans for many years to come.”
Aspiring for musical excellence and career longevity is indeed the way to Prove Yourself True!
LYDIA BELL’s angelic soprano voice can climb over two and a half octaves and provides PYT with its high harmonies and chiming accents. She has appeared in many musical theater productions in Tampa including The Sound of Music, Gypsy, Showboat, South Pacific, Grease, Annie, Oliver, and most notably with Tony Award winner Sam Harris in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Lydia is a 9th grade student at a Performing Arts high school in Tampa where she is majoring in musical theater. When they’re not traveling, Lydia and her fellow PYT bandmates attend regular school full-time. Music and theater are Lydia’s biggest loves and when she’s home, she’s devoting 100% of her time to these passions.
LAUREN MAYHEW brings style and charisma to the stage. With a versatile voice, she sings alto or soprano, enabling her to meet the challenge of complex harmonies. Prior to devoting all her time to PYT, she played the role of “Marah” on ABC’s Guilding Light for 2 years, dividing her time between New York City and Tampa. She joined Entertainment Revue, a professional children’s group in Tampa, at 4 years of age. She starred in a PBS children’s series, The Reppies, and has also made guest appearances on Noah Knows Best, Safe Harbor, Maury Povich, and All My Children as well as starring in numerous commercials and appeared in a Faith Hill video. Lauren has also performed in local productions of Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, including a Broadway series production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Twelve years of dance from LA to New York has helped her add to the choreography of PYT’s crisp dance moves. Lauren is in 9th grade at a private school in Tampa, where she is active in drama, sports, the Mellow Divas program, and the dance team. Hard work and focus have kept her on her school’s Honor Roll. She loves playing guitar and piano.
ASHLEY NIVEN is an undeniable “power” vocalist whose rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” has earned her countless standing ovations. Her first solo appearance was for the visiting Italian Ambassador when she was nine years old. Ashley became a personal favorite of the late Florida Governor, Lawton Chiles, who invited her to sing at a private function at the Governer’s Mansion. Since then she has performed the National Anthem at various sporting events in and out of Florida and has participated in community theater. Ashley, who proudly claims to be one of the world’s biggest Barbra Streisand fans, is currently a 9th grader at a Baptist school in Tampa. With aspirations to be like Barbra, she has big ambitions, hoping to write, produce, sing, dance, act and direct her way into everyone’s hearts–and of course, meet Barbra!
TRACY WILLIAMS was born with a booming alto voice and an infectious smile. While other grade-schoolers were singing in school recitals, Tracy was rubbing elbows with professional sports greats. She has sung the “Star Spangled Banner” for numerous professional teams, as well as the NBA playoffs when she was seven years old. In musical theater, Tracy has co-starred with such stage veterans as Jamie Farr (South Pacific), Margaret O’Brien (Meet Me in St. Louis), Mickey Rooney (in a 3-month musical revue), and Sam Harris in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She played lead roles in Annie, The Wizard of Oz, and Showboat. When she’s not performing on stage, Tracy enjoys gymnastics and volleyball. She plays the piano and just started taking guitar lessons, and has aspirations to write music and produce one day. She is an honor roll student at Catholic school in Tampa.
“SAME OL’ SAME OL’,” the first single by PYT is out in stores now. PYT’s debut album will be in stores in July. In the meantime, their career is already off to an amazing start. PYT have been touring pro’s, having toured the last few summers with *NSYNC, Britney Spears, Aaron Carter and, most recently, performed at the Pre-Game Superbowl show in their hometown, as well as Jenny Jones and Soul Train. They have kicked off their hit single by heading out on the road again touring with Destiny’s Child and 98 Degrees and are continuing to line up summer tours. Stay tuned to our tour section for up-to-the-minute tour dates. These tours and performances only hint at the kind of success PYT will no doubt have in the near future.
Check out PYT’s retail campaign for Cybrrrr, a Totes/Isotoner company designed for hip and trendy young ladies & men. This campaign goes nationwide to all department stores starting in September.
“Performing isn’t really work for us,” says Ashley, “it’s something we love to do. We practice hard so that once we get on stage, we can focus on having fun.”
“I think both kids and grown-ups will enjoy our music,” Lydia explains, “and relate to us as people. I mean, we’re really close friends doing what we love to do most and having a great time. Everyone can relate to that!”