"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, Tracy, 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!