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TYA Celebrates Best Music Video Win

Toronto triumph another step forward for Lions Bay singer

Dancing shoes are always close at hand for local singer-songwriter Tya.

Lions Bay resident Tya is lacing up her dancing shoes and heading back on the road. Not exactly what you'd expect from an award-winning singer, right?

But after capping a busy year in 2023 by winning the inaugural Toronto International Music Video Festival's (TIMVF) Best Video award for her song 'Josephine', she's roaring into 2024 as a featured participant in two local music projects – not to mention the new EP she's readying for release.

You'd think all this excitement would be too much for one young artist to cope with, but Tya's cheerfully looking to the future.

"I feel so lucky," she says. "There's so much local talent here in BC, and I have a great community of friends and supporters that I hope to hang onto for a long time."

It helps that show business is a way of life for Tya's family. Dad Troy McLaughlin was born in Richmond, Virginia and has danced his way across stage (performing in The Lion King and Starlight Express among many other musicals on Broadway and beyond) and screen, playing everything from Richard Pryor's tap-dancing conscience in 'Pryor Offences' to a tap-dancing local citizen of Apple TV's recent 'Schmigadoon'. Tya's mother Inga McLaughlin grew up on the North Shore, but she got her start dancing with the Folies Bergère  in Paris, and performed for years as a member of the Ringling Brothers circus before moving into stage production and management.

Tya was born in Las Vegas where her parents performed alongside famed magicians Siegfried and Roy. The family has always led a somewhat peripatetic life. They bought their house in Lions Bay in 2016, but didn't manage to actually move in until 2018. Both Tya's parents continue to work in film and stage production, and Troy is on the faculty of the School of Performing Arts at Capilano University. Tya initially attended Sentinel High School, taking a program that allowed her to dance in the afternoons.

"I've had a bit of a magical life," Tya says, beginning with an unexpected appearance on Sesame Street at just five years old.

She's been making and posting videos of herself performing since she was small. When she was fourteen, Tya's dance troupe was invited to perform at Disneyland, and the video she made of the experience led to a two year gig as a spokesperson for Disney's 'Dance the Magic' program. High school became something she did online while flying between Disney events. In Grade 12, she returned to Lions Bay and completed her graduation requirements at Rockridge.

Though she's been writing songs since she was 12, Tya's focus had always been dance. Then in 2020, her mother Inga asked for her help in workshopping a possible Broadway show with David Foster. "There was a moment in rehearsal when I ended up singing the audience part, and I was really nervous in front of him," Tya says. "He told me not to be worried, because I could sing."

The encouragement was just what she needed. "If David Foster says you can sing, maybe you want to give it a shot."

She has never looked back. Following a couple of tough years working in the development mines in Los Angeles, she said goodbye to a difficult manager and took the lead herself. "I've always used music and art to help me cope with my anxiety and depression," she says, noting that making the 'Josephine' video did just that.

These days, life is very busy, juggling live shows and session work in Los Angeles with the many projects she has underway here at home in the Lower Mainland. She's currently competing in the 'Elevate Music' project at the Biltmore in East Van, a program designed by the MRG Group to support local emerging artists in Vancouver's live music scene. She was also selected as one of fifteen participants in Music BC's ARC program this year, designed to support and amplify young talent. And a grant from Creative BC allowed Tya to put together the team that produced her award-winning video 'Josephine'.

Tya shared her vision with local videographer Miranda McDougall, and they got to work. The video offers an homage to Tya's favourite movie SOME LIKE IT HOT. "I just wanted to make a video that was pure Queer joy," she says. And clearly the folks at TIMVF agreed.

Despite this busy schedule, she's planning to release a still-untitled EP on March 22, which will feature six new songs. The EP is supported by Kelsey Kahla of Grrrl Music, and producer Richie Berretta.

Tya's work can be found on her website, on Instagram and Tiktok. And keep an eye on this young dancing, singing and songwriting triple threat. Who knows where those tap shoes will take her next?

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