Most albums from 14-year-olds are jam-packed with bubblegummy songs about trying to catch the attention of the opposite sex, a theme and style of little interest to those beyond the age of 18. But Monica Arnold’s 1995 debut Miss Thang set a precedent for teen singers, showcasing her rich vocals and universal subject matter that easily found her airplay on both hip-hop and adult contemporary format radio stations.
Clearly, Monica’s mature vocal stylings can be attributed to her church choir grooming. By the age of two, Monica was following in her mother’s footsteps and singing in church. Monica, born Oct. 24, 1980, joined the Charles Thompson & the Majestics choir when she was 10, making her the youngest member in the traveling ensemble. After two years of weekly singing engagements at various churches, Monica responded to a mentor’s urging to participate in local talent shows.
A talent show organized by a local DJ and West Coast female rapper Yo Yo offered her great exposure. Her performance of Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love Of All” impressed an A&R person in the audience, who later introduced then-12-year-old singer to Dallas Austin, an Atlanta-based entrepreneur and producer whose credits include work with TLC, Boyz II Men and Madonna.
An equally excited Austin introduced Monica to Arista Records head Clive Davis and signed her to his Arista-distributed Rowdy Records. By the age of 14, the success of Miss Thang had deemed Monica the youngest female singer to have two consecutive No. 1 singles on the R&B charts. Her songs “Don’t Take It Personal (Just One Of Dem Days)” and “Before You Walk Out Of My Life” clearly left cutesy, sappy records from teen girl singers in the dust.
While sharing the teen spotlight with Brandy and Aaliyah, Miss Thang still achieved platinum status and a slew of impressive award nominations. Included among the nominations were best new artist from the American Music Awards, artist of the year from the Billboard Awards, and best female R&B/ soul single from the Soul Train Music Awards. Monica did receive the best R&B female artist title from the Lady Of Soul awards. Her single “For You I Will,” from the 1996’s 5 million-selling Space Jam soundtrack, also earned Monica a ton of acclaim.
After a brief hiatus, Monica returned with her sophomore release The Boy Is Mine, titled after her No. 1 collaboration with Brandy. Tired of responding to constant rumors of a feuding with her fellow teen diva, Monica accepted Brandy’s offer to record the song and film the video together. Unfortunately, rumors increased, alleging fights in the studio, during the video shoot and backstage at the 1998 Soul Train Music Awards. The rumors clearly did not hurt Monica’s image, as The Boy Is Mine quickly achieved platinum status, just like its predecessor.
Monica’s frequently delayed third release, retitled After The Storm, was set for a June 2003 release. The set is executive produced by Missy Elliott, who produced and wrote the lead single, “So Gone.”
After The Storm features guest appearances by DMX and Tyrese, and the production of Jazzy Pha, Rodney Jerkins, Jermaine Dupri, Dallas Austin, Soulshock & Karlin, and Bam & Ryan.