Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Monica, The #67 Female Artist of the Rock Era

Monica Brown (Arnold) was born and raised in College Park, Georgia.  She began performing as a child at age two at the Jones Hill Chapel United Methodist Church in Newnan, Georgia.  Monica continued to train in singing and won over 20 local singing competitions in her early teenage years.  At 10, she became the youngest member of Charles Thompson and the Majestics, a traveling gospel choir. 

When she was eleven, Monica was discovered singing Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All" at the Center Stage auditorium in Atlanta by producer Dallas Austin.  With the help of Austin and staff producers Tim & Bob, Monica signed a recording contract with Arista Records at age thirteen, and released her debut album Miss Thang two years later.

"Don't Take It Personal (Just One Of Dem Days)" was the debut single in 1995, and it's success foretold what was to come, hitting #2 in the U.S., #5 in New Zealand and #7 in Australia.  Monica was nominated for Favorite Soul/R&B New Artist at the American Music Awards.

The single went Platinum in the U.S. and helped Miss Thang sell over three million albums.  Monica then released "Like This And Like That", giving her a #7 popular hit.

"Before You Walk Out Of My Life" was the flip side, and it not only shared the #7 overall ranking, but reached #1 on the R&B chart.

Monica was becoming one of the most successful R&B female vocalists of her time.  She won the Billboard Award for R&B Artist of the Year and was nominated for an American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B New Artist.  "Don't Take It Personal" and "Before You Walk Out Of My Life" made Monica the youngest recording act in history to have two consecutive #1 songs on the R&B chart.

Monica recorded "Ain't Nobody" for the remake of the movie The Nutty Professor, and it too hit the Top 10:

Monica switched to Arista Records, and took the Diane Warren song "For You I Will" to #2 in New Zealand and #4 in the U.S.  It was included on the "Space Jam" Soundtrack.

In 1998, Monica teamed with Brandy to record "The Boy Is Mine", the first single from both of their second albums.  It spent a record-breaking thirteen weeks at #1, won the pair a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal (also nominated for Record of the Year), four Billboard Music Awards--Top 100 Singles Sales, Top R&B Sales, Top Dance Maxi-Single and Best R&B/Urban Clip, and a BMI Pop Award. 

"The Boy Is Mine" was a worldwide phenomenon, hitting #1 in Canada, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Ireland and stopping just short at #2 in the U.K.  The smash #1 song of the year got Monica off to a great start with the album, and proved she wasn't just a freshman fluke.  "The First Night" gave her two straight #1 songs and two straight Platinum-sellers.

"Angel Of Mine" made it three in a row, also going Platinum and also topping the charts in the U.S. and hitting #10 in Canada.

Monica was nominated for Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist and Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist at the American Music Awards.  Monica's album The Boy Is Mine was certified triple platinum.  She appeared on television shows such as Beverly Hills, 90210 and Living Single.

Then, the career of the gal who had stormed onto the scene and gave the music world some of the best R&B of the era came to a sudden halt.  In July of 2000, Monica and boyfriend Jarvis Weems were at the graveside of Weems's brother, who had died in an automobile accident at age 25 in 1998.  Suddenly, Weems, without any warning, put a gun to his head and committed suicide.  Everyone should have some inkling what that did to Monica.

Later in the year, Monica made her film debut in the MTV movie Love Song.  In 2001, Monica channeled her experiences into recording her third album, All Eyez on Me.  But when the first two single releases met with lukewarm response, Monica was asked to substantially change the album with new producers. 

Thus, Monica re-entered the studio with songwriters including Kanye West.  The result was the renamed album After the Storm, which reached #1 on the album chart, the only chart-topping album of her career.  "So Gone", written by Missy Elliott, was Monica's biggest hit in four years, hitting #10 overall and #1 on the R&B chart.  Monica was nominated for a Billboard Music Award for Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artists-Female.

Monica received R&B airplay for other songs on the album, but she would never hit the Top 10 on the popular chart again.  In 2006, Monica released the album The Makings of Me.  Although the project debuted at #8 on the album chart, no single success materialized.  

She released the album Still Standing in 2010, which debuted at #2 with first-week sales of 184,000. Monica became the first artist to score a #1 R&B song in the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s, when "Everything To Me" hit #1. She then scored a #2 R&B hit with "Love All Over You". Unfortunately, neither crossed over to become a big mainstream hit, but Monica did pick up two Billboard Music Award nominations:  Top R&B Artist and Top R&B Album.

The album did go Gold, however, and "Everything To Me" was nominated for a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and Still Standing was nominated for Best R&B Album.

In 2012, Monica released her seventh album New Life on her new label, RCA.  Unfortunately, the best she's done is #22 with "Until It's Gone".

Monica has posted 16 career hits, with eight reaching the Top 10 and three #1 songs.  She has sold seven million albums in the U.S. and 20 million worldwide, and has won one Grammy Award and five Billboard Music Awards

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