Born Monica Arnold, October 1980, in College Park, GA; daughter of M.C. Arnold, Jr. and Marilyn Best. Addresses: Record company--Gwendolyn Quinn, Arista Records, Inc., 6 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.
The young chanteuse named Monica needed no last name to distinguish her, as word of her talent emerged in the music press during the mid-1990s. Her first recording, released when she was only 14 years old, sealed her reputation as a talented singing sensation. Despite her youth and the rapid rise of her career, Monica amazed the music world with the strength of her voice. Even as a young teen-ager she drew praise from critics, who compared her powerful voice to R&B legends such as Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and Anita Baker.
With "Don't Take It Personal (Just One Of Dem Days)" in 1996 Monica became the youngest artist ever to top the Billboard R&B singles chart. Her first album, Miss Thang, appeared shortly after the hit single, and by the time she turned 16 the recording had gone double-platinum. When she released her second album, The Boy Is Mine, in 1997 the title song was already a chart-topping hit.
Monica Arnold was in born in College Park, Georgia in October of 1980. Her father, M.C. Arnold, Jr., left the family when Monica was only four years old. Monica's mother Marilyn, an airline employee, supported the family on her own until 1993 when she married the Reverend Edward Best. Monica first sang in her church choir when she was barely out of infancy. Stories hold that she made her singing debut at age two when her mother, a member of the church choir, allowed the toddler to join the group.
Most agree at any rate that by the age of four Monica was a bona fide member of the choir at Jones Chapel United Methodist Church in Newman, Georgia. Outside of Church, Monica was too shy to perform in front of anyone, including her friends. Yet she was completely enamored of singing and turned everyday objects even pencils into microphone props. She lived all of her young life in College Park until she was literally "discovered" as a pre-teen in a talent contest.
Monica was only ten years old when she first entered a talent contest, after years of singing in the choir and alone in her room. Two years later she took first prize in a contest, winning $1,000 for her rendition of the Whitney Houston hit, "The Greatest Love of All." Her performance solicited a standing ovation from the crowd, including record producer Dallas Austin. An associate of superstar singers including Madonna and TLC, Austin was impressed when he heard the youngster. He signed Monica to a recording contract with Rowdy Records in 1992.
Her life assumed a whirlwind pace as she attended high school at Atlanta Country Day School and fulfilled her agreement under Austin's contract with Rowdy Records. Despite her extreme youth Monica immediately began work on her Miss Thang album, which was two years in production. At 14 she completed her first chart-topping hit, "Don't Take It Personal (Just One Of Dem Days)." She graduated from high school at age 16 with a solid 4.0 grade point average, despite the demands of her recording schedule, public appearances, and touring engagements that included a ten-week concert tour in the spring and summer of 1996.
In October of 1997, after the demise of Rowdy Records, Monica signed with Arista Records. Her tall, striking appearance garnered her further work for modeling and acting assignments all before she turned 17 years old. Along with her manager, rap singer Queen Latifah, Monica appeared on the Fox sit-com Living Single, and she appeared on the Tonight Show, as well.
Monica's second album with Austin, 1998s The Boy Is Mine, held the number one spot on Billboard's chart for two months. The album included the hit single "The Boy Is Mine," a duet with fellow teenaged R&B star Brandy that debuted at number one and stayed there for six uninterrupted weeks. The two young singers performed the duet to a live audience for the fist time at the 1998 MTV Awards in Los Angeles amid rumors of an embittered rivalry between the superstars. The words of the duet, which imply that there is a love triangle going on between the two singers, were misconstrued by eager fans who believed that the song told a personal story about Monica and Brandy. Although rumors persisted, both women asserted a sense of individual confidence and denied that there could be anything but mutual respect between the two.
After becoming famous, Monica continued to live with her mother and stepfather, younger brother Montez, and her grandmother in College Park. In music, Monica found an escape from the painful circumstance of living life away from her father. She developed an extremely close bond with her mother, and in time developed acute sensitivity to her mother's burden of raising five children alone. As word of Monica's fame spread, she reconciled with her father.
by Gloria Cooksey
Signed with Rowdy Records,1992; hit singles include "Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)," 1996, and "The Boy Is Mine" (with Brandy), 1997; released Miss Thang, 1995; contributed on Space Jam soundtrack; signed with Arista Records, 1997; released The Boy Is Mine (includes "Street Symphony" with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra), 1998.
- Selected discography
- Miss Thang , 1995.
- "Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)," 1996.
- (with Brandy) "The Boy Is Mine," 1997.
- (contributor)Space Jam (soundtrack), 1997.
- The Boy Is Mine (includes "Street Symphony" with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra), Arista, 1998.
- Ebony, September 1998.
- Essence, October 1998.
- Jet, October 5, 1998.
- Newsweek, July 27, 1998.
- Rolling Stone, December 24, 1998.
- People, April 22, 1996; August 3, 1998.