She’s Still Miss Thang | Essence

Few recording artists can boast consistent relevance and influence over 30 years. Even fewer achieve it before hitting age 42. But Monica is a rare one. She burst onto the scene in 1995 as a powerhouse vocalist and captivating stage performer when she was still only 14. Her debut album, Miss Thang, declared her our new It girl. Since then she has remained in high demand year after year, constantly booked and often on tour.

“Honestly, I always say it has to be in you, not on you,” the singer says of her enduring industry prowess during a late spring Zoom call slipped in between other appointments. She credits her parents for teaching by example—directly witnessing their hardworking drive instilled a work ethic that she’s carried since very early in life.

She’s Still Miss Thang

“When I started to work, I was still a child, but even at 12 and 13 years old, I maintained a certain type of schedule,” she says, noting that her work-life balance had to adjust as she aged, had children, got married, and began juggling other ventures on top of stage and studio time. “That balance, I’ve just kept and maintained it. I still love the stage. It’s a level of therapy that happens for me there because I get a chance to feel the energy of the crowd.”

Keeping that energy alive has been integral to Monica’s career longevity, with her long-awaited eighth studio album, Trenches, currently in production. “I think there’s been a little frustration toward me when it comes to releasing Trenches, and I completely understand why and take full accountability,” she says, noting that multiple losses in her family have slowed her creative process. “But I would rather the music be late and great than be right away and missing elements that I know should be there.”

That palpable, therapeutic energy goes both ways between the R&B star and her fans, who still clamor to see…

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