Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Making It Big: In Step with R&b's Monica Arnold

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Making It Big: In Step with R&b's Monica Arnold

Article excerpt

MONICA ARNOLD, who will appear on the Budweiser Stage at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 6, may look like a typical teen-ager, but she sure doesn't sound like one. At 15, she's already accomplished something that singers twice her age can only dream about. Her hit single, "Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)" peaked at No. 3 on Billboard's Hot Rhythm & Blues chart, while her follow-up song, "Before You Walk Out of My Life," hit No. 1 on the magazine's Hot R&B Recurrent Airplay list. Both songs, from her debut album,"Miss Thang," are in heavy rotation, meaning that Monica and her grown-up voice are all over the urban contemporary airwaves. All this, while still having to worry about finishing high school.

The first single, "Don't Take It Personal," gives the first hint to Monica's vocal range and depth. What some might dismiss as "bubble gum soul" actually explores more than the typical teen-age angst. Monica sings along the same styles as her professed vocal inspirations Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, and Rachelle Farrell. Producer Austin even went so far as to say that perhaps Monica's sassy and confident personality is the result of a "been there, done that" mentality.

"She's a young girl with an old soul. She had to have been a jazz or blues singer in a past life," he says. "She has so much character in her voice. I was really impressed with her use of inflections and the overall maturity of her voice at such a young age. It's so full and deep."

Much of the success of "Miss Thang" is due to the 23-year-old Austin. The young southern Svengali quickly signed her to his Arista-distributed Rowdy Records label. A 16-song album soon followed, with cuts written and produced by him and his Dallas Austin Record Productions' team of Colin Wolfe, Arnold Hennings, Tim Kelley and Bob Robinson. This D.A.R.P. studio's crew has worked with an impressive list of artists including Madonna, Dr. Dre, Boyz II Men, and TLC.

Monica was an active participant throughout the recording process, even rejecting some of the songs originally planned for the album.

"I was very assertive in making sure the album was really me. How can you show feeling in a song when it's about something you don't know about? …

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