Mýa Recalls Michael Jackson's Surprise Phone Call to Sing Her 'Happy Birthday' When She Turned 22 (Exclusive)

"I'll never forget that moment," the R&B star tells PEOPLE

<p>Mark Metcalfe/Getty; George De Sota/Getty</p> Mýa, Michael Jackson

Mark Metcalfe/Getty; George De Sota/Getty

Mýa, Michael Jackson

Mýa is reflecting on a birthday surprise from Michael Jackson that she'll "never forget."

Speaking with PEOPLE ahead of the forthcoming Queens of R&B Tour this summer, the Grammy winner, now 44, shared a heartfelt story from her 22nd birthday in 2001 — when the King of Pop sang to her over the phone.

After the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Mýa was invited to join a supergroup of chart-toppers for Jackson's "What More Can I Give" charitable single. As she recalls now, the recording process took place on her 22nd birthday, shortly before the track's release in October 2001. Somehow, Jackson caught wind of her special day.

"Lots of artists were invited to record at a specific studio in New York City, and the only day in between touring that I had available was the day I had marked off my calendar as off, which was my birthday," Mýa says, noting that she had already performed for Jackson at his 30th Anniversary Celebration at Madison Square Garden days before the World Trade Center attacks.

"I went back up to New York City for the first time since, very scary, because when Michael calls, you go," she adds. "As I was walking into the studio, Luther Vandross was recording and just wrapping up and we met and we greeted each other. That was the last time I saw him in person."

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After rubbing shoulders with Vandross, Mýa got quite the birthday surprise from another music legend. "Michael called the studio. There was a hard line, a hard phone there with a cord, and it was at the left of the console," she says.

"I was told that I had a call and no one told me who it was. He just started by singing 'Happy Birthday.' I was so nice of him. Of course, he's a busy guy. I'll never forget that moment. It means a lot."

Related: Mýa Reveals Why She Joined Queens of R&B Tour with Xscape and SWV: 'This Is What I Grew Up on' (Exclusive)

<p>Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect</p> Whitney Houston and Mýa perform together at the Michael Jackson "30th Anniversary Celebration" in New York City on Sept. 7, 2001

Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect

Whitney Houston and Mýa perform together at the Michael Jackson "30th Anniversary Celebration" in New York City on Sept. 7, 2001

The call from the King of Pop came just a month after Mýa joined Usher and Whitney Houston on stage for a performance of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" dedicated to Jackson.

As for if Mýa ever finds herself singing for friends and fans over the phone these days, she explains that she'll occasionally "leave voice messages or voice notes for friends on WhatsApp or text." She does the same for fans on Cameo with video shoutouts.

"I usually get birthday message requests to sing someone happy birthday for a surprise, and they can book it. I really get a lot of joy out of doing that because they'll send me the reaction videos back, and some of that probably stems from how Michael made my day," Mýa says.

Related: Xscape and SWV Announce Co-Headlining Queens of R&B Tour with Special Guests Mýa, Total and 702 (Exclusive)

Elsewhere during her conversation with PEOPLE, Mýa opened up about what she hopes the latest chapter in her career says about her: "Growth, evolution, faith and pushing through."

"I was just a young teen fresh out of high school when I started and not everything is going to be perfect when you first start," she says. "But taking that leap to success, even when things are imperfect and the growth is evident, it's very clear and the message and exuding the journey and what that means is faith and still standing unscathed."

"Hopefully that serves as an inspiration to others because it's not an easy road or industry," she adds. "There are perks, but very competitive, and many people can get discouraged along the way with so many voices and influences or self-doubt. So just an example in allowing the higher power to use me because it's not about me at the end of the day."

The Queens of R&B Tour — featuring XscapeSWV, Mýa, Total, and 702 — kicks off on June 27 in Concord, California before stopping at 30 cities across the U.S.

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