Every now and then, Monica thinks back on how a fender-bender became a turning point in her life.
In 2004, she slammed into the back of another car while approaching a stop light after she says the driver made a quick stop.
Though Monica appeared not to have any injuries, she was sent to an Atlanta hospital because she was a few months pregnant. As she waited for the test results, she feared that her child might not survive.
Then, Monica’s friends saw the sonogram.
“They told me it was a boy and he was OK,” she said. “It was my first time finding out the baby’s sex. Something that was once tragic turned into excitement. It was a life-changing moment.”
On her new album, “The Makings Of Me,” which was released this month, the soulful singer candidly reflects on the many life-changing moments that have shaped her world — hectic relationships, the death of an ex-boyfriend and finding a new love are openly expressed on the album.
After finishing her meal at a restaurant, Monica hugged her 16-month old son then fed him some dessert, happily going through her motherly duties. She seems at peace and wants fans to know about her tumultuous past.
“I had to tell my story,” she said. “There are too many people who have been in the same situation as me and really don’t know their way out. Hopefully through my words, what I say can open a door.”
Much of Monica’s life has been played out in the spotlight. A teen sensation, she had her first smash hit in 1995 when she was just 13 with the sassy song “Don’t Take It Personal.” More hits would follow, including her Grammy-winning No. 1 hit “The Boy Is Mine” and the ballad “Angel of Mine.”
But along with public successes came public heartache, most notably when a former boyfriend committed suicide in front of her few years ago. Pictures of her grief-stricken were splashed in tabloids. Another ex, rapper Corey “C-Murder” Miller, was incarcerated on a murder charge; it was recently overturned and he faces a retrial.
Songs came out of journal writing
About half of the songs on “The Makings of Me” are from Monica’s journals, which she started about eight years ago. It was the first time she used her personal writings and she initially felt uncomfortable about handing over the diaries to producers.
“That was kind of private to hand over,” she said. “It was going into the hands of about seven or eight people. It was difficult to do something like that the first time around.”
But Monica felt obligated to unveil her true thoughts about past relationships, which brought along “Sideline Ho.” She was enraged at a former boyfriend, who openly cheated on her, prompting her to break all ties with him and confront the woman.
“Was it something I did wrong?” Monica recalled. “When [producer] Jermaine [Dupri] heard me say that, he wondered why the guy would pick the other woman, who doesn’t look better nor has anything going for her. That’s when he came up with the next song, ’Why Her.”’
Besides dealing with unfaithful men, she also focused on other tribulations that revolved around death. Watching her boyfriend commit suicide by shooting himself in the head, along with losing her cousin and grandmother, left her disturbed.
Spirituality helped her get through itHowever, Monica said with her mom being a born-again Christian and stepfather a minister, she was able to receive spiritual guidance when times got rough.
“I told both Monica and her brother this Bible verse for advice: ’No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper’,” said Marilyn Best, the songstress’s mother. “When things got tough, we tried to pull her and her brother through with support.”
Monica took a break from music because she wanted to spend more time with family and friends. She believes having her personal life and music balanced helps her be more creative, noting that her last three albums were no less than three years apart.
“I like to step away from my job for a moment,” Monica said. “When I come back, there’s a whole new different energy. I feel fresh now and I missed music, which helped me come back.”
Though her last album, “After The Storm,” went platinum, it was a drop off from her first two records, “Miss Thang” and “The Boy is Mine,” which each went multi-platinum. But Monica believes the small core of producers she used helped her produce a better album.
Besides, she’s not as worried about being hot for the moment.
“God will line everything up if you let him,” said Monica. “Sometimes we try to do it ourselves and get in the way of our own destiny. But I learned to step back and let everything take its course. That’s my approach toward life now.”