Call It a Comeback: Singer-Reality Star Monica 'Still Standing' Despite Setbacks
By Rashod Ollison Posted Jan 19th 2010 01:23PM
What can people expect on the 'Standing' finale?
The finale is pretty interesting because at this point, the pressure is a little bit over the top. When an album project is coming to a close, the expectation just becomes greater and greater. You just kinda see me break a little bit under the pressure to a certain degree. But overall, people know I'm still standing. I don't let too much get the best of me that often.
At the beginning of your career, you always struck me as a private artist. So it was a bit surprising to see that you had this reality show. What was it like to have these cameras following you and your two sons all the time?
Originally, it was something I did not want to do when the idea was presented to me. But I knew that I was at a place in my life where I wasn't surrounded by drama consistently. Had they done a reality show on me 10 years ago, there was drama, absolutely. My only concern was that people recognize that every family does not deal with a lot of trials and tribulations that are created among them. ... My family has been fully supportive. What I liked about the idea, once it was presented to me, was that everybody at BET wanted me to understand that, 'Look, we don't want you to do anything other than be you.' Consider what your life is like and we think you should bring that to the forefront for a couple of different reasons. One, I've been making records since I was 12 years old, so there's a lot for young aspiring musicians to see and learn from the process. All they see is the glitz and glamour part of it. But [on the show], you get to see all of the other headaches that come with the music business. Second, I'm the mother of two and I'm 29 years old. Third, my family is so supportive. It's good for people to see that. Black people come in all shades and personalities. And that's what made me decide to do it.
There was a gap there between the last album and the reality show. Were your fans wondering, "Where's Monica?" What were you doing in that interim?
I was focused solely on my kids. I was removed from the music industry world. Living in Atlanta and having family from the country, I always get back to that in between every album anyway. I was just blessed financially to come into the game before 360 deals and to do things that allowed me to take that time off and not suffer in any other way and take care of my kids in the way that I was accustomed to. I just wanted my children to know that they were my first priority regardless of the fact that I've been entertaining so long.
How has motherhood influenced your approach to your music?
It changes the things that you will and will not do. Like now, I'm more prone to take a show in Orlando versus Vegas, if somebody makes an offer on the same day. I'm constantly thinking about things I can do to include my children. I'm more aware of the things I say in my music now, whereas before Miss Thang would give it to you raw in an instant. I'm a little more conscious by nature. It was a good change for me to grow up.
Regarding the music, the last album didn't do as well as expected. What did you feel you had to prove on the new record you're working on?
Well first, I do R&B and soul. Along the way, I had a couple of pop hits, but I originated singing over hip-hop beats and soulful records. So on this album I just wanted to get back to the basics of where I started. And when I look back at my last album, The Makings of Me still sold a million records, which is a blessing because some folks aren't able to do that. But it wasn't the 3, 4, 5 million that we were accustomed to. So it just made me realize that people want authentic Monica. They don't want me to keep up with all the different gimmicks and trends that are taking place. So that's why we picked the new single, "Everything to Me," because it's just me singing. [Sample Here:]
On that song, whose idea was it to sample the Deniece Williams' classic "Silly"?
It was Missy [Elliott]. I'm an eighties baby all day, and Missy like to hear me sing over those older beats. So anytime she works with me, she goes in the crates and finds those songs that ring true to that era. That's what she did this time around. On the album, we did some new stuff too, more club-oriented. But some of the ones you've heard on the show have an older feel, because I have such an older voice.
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