Monifah on Life, New Album & Upcoming Projects
Interviewed and written by Tocarra Eldridge
Before there was Beyonce or Nicki Minaj, female R&B singer/songwriter, Monifah, burst into the scene in the mid-90s. A vixen in her own right, Monifah put sexy females on the map with her hit single. I remember it like yesterday, I was a young, vibrant 16 year old, and it was my birthday when her smash hit single Touch It was released. I was definitely a huge fan… grooving to her hot joint in my car on a regular. To this day, my spirit quickens when I hear that oldie but goodie.
Monifah broke into the music scene under the wings of the late Heavy D. She released hit songs such as “I Miss You (Come Back Home)”, “You” and “You Don’t Have To Love Me" off her debut album Moods...Moments. Later, the talented singer would come to release albums such as Mo’Hogany and Home.
Taking time away from the music industry, Monifah has hit the reset button and is prepping the release of new music. In 2012 Monifah became a cast member of TV One’s reality show R&B Divas Atlanta alongside Nicci Gilbert, Syleena Johnson, Keke Wyatt and Faith Evans. To date, she is anticipating releasing her upcoming album “Invincible.”
I had the pleasure to speak with Monifah, one of my favorite R&B artists. Here is what she had to share regarding her latest happenings.
Tocarra Eldridge: You will receive The 2015 VANGUARD AWARD at the 9th annual OUTMusic Awards, what type of gratification do you get from receiving this award?
Monifah: What I’m really happy and grateful for is to be able to smell my flowers while I’m still able to enjoy them, while I’m alive. I think it’s awesome! It lets me know that I’m moving in the direction I’m supposed to be moving in and when God leads you it’s not rough. I take gratefulness and humbleness from this. I’m really proud of that moment. I’m just living my life authentically. That’s all I can do. That’s all I want to do.
Tocarra: It’s been 14 years since you’ve released an album. What took place over almost a decade and a half whereas you had to take time off from pursuing your music career?
Monifah: Well… life happened. I had other lessons to learn that were greater than making music. It prepared me for where I am in my life right now. I was still working; I just wasn’t in the mainstream. It was straight work. I was lowkey and under the radar. It’s awesome to be back and to have passion again and to be back in this rat race that we call the music business. (laugh) It’s different now because the game is different. It’s a different industry. It’s easier to live and die by your own mistakes in the independent game. And I actually like that. There are a lot of pros and cons as well. Being able to make your own decisions and live and die by that is amazing! [It’s great] to be able to really put out what you want to put out and what makes sense to you and your supporters. That’s what I appreciate about being an independent artist right now and coming back to this music thing.
Tocarra: You mentioned that the music industry is different nowadays. Has there been any significant changes in the music industry since releasing your last album, "Home"?
Monifah: Absolutely. It has opened up so much. It’s almost unrecognizable to me, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s just very different. I think because I was away from it for so long, I get a chance to start all over. I get a chance to be a new artist again, because it’s a whole totally different landscape. I’m really enjoying that. There is a new drive and excitement. I’m learning how to be business savvy and how to be on top of my game. Back in the day when I was signed to the majors people were doing things for me, and I was having a good time. I wasn’t completely taking care of my business; I wasn’t on top of my business as much as I could have been. I feel like a new artist again, and that doesn’t necessarily feel like a bad thing for me.
Tocarra: What can your fans and listeners expect from your upcoming album “Invincible”?
Monifah: It is really well-rounded. I think people are going to be able to hear a lot more of the influences that I grew up around and really gravitated toward musically. It’s R&B. I think all music is R&B…whatever comes from the heart goes to the heart. Music is music and it reaches the spirit. I think it’s a lot broader style in this project.
Tocarra: In 2012, you became a cast a member of TV One’s reality show R&B Divas. What type of experience was that for you?
Monifah: It was divinely timed and ordered because of the opportunity and the way everything played out. The timing of it being picked up right after Whitney’s death when people understood that there is a story that women in this music industry have to tell. There’s a lot on us with families. We’re the nurturers of our children, trying to chase your passion and feed your family – it’s a whole other dynamic with women in this business. The individual stories that we shared were so powerful and needed to be heard. It was awesome! I just shared my life. I felt that it was my duty because people need to know they are not alone in certain areas. We are all struggling and trying to find our way through this thing called life.
Tocarra: What words of encouragement would you share with aspiring singers or entertainers who are looking to make a career in the music industry?
Monifah: Know who you are. Learn who you are and what you will accept and what you won’t accept. It seems cliché, but it’s cliché because it’s true. If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything. You have to believe in who you are and what lines you are willing to cross or not cross.
Tocarra: You’re also looking forward to writing a book. Would you like to tell us a little about that?
Monifah: I’m in the process of writing my book now. I’m very excited about that. The book is not an autobiography. I think that I have a lot to offer regarding what I have learned these last ten years on my journey – from my life and my past and what I’ve learned. I want to share all of that. I took a lot of twists and turns, but I made a decision, thank God, that I was going to end certain legacies in my family - that the buck was going to stop with me. I learned a lot along the way.
Tocarra: Before we end the interview, would you like to add anything in conclusion?
Monifah: The single ‘One Moment’ is coming at the top of February. I have a live show on Valentine’s Day. AllStar weekend is Valentine’s Day weekend in New York. So it’s a lot of festivities going on. I have a show; I’m bringing it back home to my hometown Harlem. I am really excited. Everybody can reach me on social media, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. My handle is TheMonifah. Come join the fam, come and hang out.
For more information on Monifah, please visit www.themonifah.com