Born on October 24, 1980 in College Park, Georgia, Monica Denise Arnold is the oldest child of M.C. Arnold Jr, a mechanic for a freight company, and Marilyn Best, an airline customer service representative and former singer. Monica has four siblingsーa younger brother named Montez and three half brothers named Tron, Jermond and Cypress. Her parents ultimately divorced when she was four years old; as a result, she spent much of her childhood growing up with her mother and brothers, with little contact with her father. Monica’s mother would eventually remarry a minister when she was thirteen years old.
As the daughter of a devoted church singer, Monica had the same love for gospel music as her mother. Growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta, she first began to sing alongside the church choir when she was two years old. A fan of singer Whitney Houston, Monica spent much of her time sining her songs throughout the next few years; she would eventually sing a rendition of Whitney’s, The Greatest Love of All in a public performance for the first time at the age of nine. Wanting to continue performing, it wasn’t long before she joined, Charles Thompson and the Majesticsーa traveling gospel choir group in 1990.
After winning several titles at various local talent shows with her rendition of Whitney’s song, Monica was eventually noticed by a music industry scout, which set her up for a meeting with one of his friends, the renowned music producer, Dallas Austin. Impressed with her vocal capabilities, Monica soon began to train under Austin to improve both her voice and songwriting skills. Having honed her abilities, she later sang for record producer, Clive Davis; having liked what he/d heard, he would ultimately offer the young aspiring artist her a recording deal with Arista Records.
Entering into the studio for the first time, Monica began writing and producing her debut studio album entitled, Miss Thang with the help of the award-winning producers, Tim & Bob. After recording the tracks over a period of two years, it was eventually released in the United States in July 1995. The first professional album for the young artist, it was largely a success upon its release; garnering much positive acclaim at the time from various music critics.
A huge hit for Monicaーwho was only fifteen at the time, Miss Thang went on to rank number seven on the Billboard Top R&B Albums Chart and number thirty six on the BillBoard 200 Chart. It also performed well overseas, having reached the top ten of the Albums Chart in New Zealand. Since then, the record has been certified triple platinum by the RIAA for having sold three million copies, it was also later certified gold in Canada in 1995. Miss Thang would subsequently also earn Monica her first Billboard Music Award in 1996.
Having risen to prominence with her debut album, Monica released her second studio album entitled, The Boy is Mine in 1998. Collaborating with music producers Daryl Simmons and Dallas Austin, the singer had more creative control over the songs compared to her previous record. Officially released on July 14, 1998, the album was met with generally positive reviews from critics and had debuted at the number two spot on the Top R&B Albums chart and at number eight on the Billboard 200 Chartーeffectively beating her previous charting records with Miss Thang. With over three million copies sold within the United States alone, it was soon certified to be triple-platinum by the RIAA; it remains to be one of her best international sellers to this date. A critical success, The Boy is Mine also earned the artist several awards including four Billboard Music Awards, two BMI Pop Awards and a Grammy Award.
After making her film debut in the MTV romance movie, Love Song in 2000, Monica once again returned to work on her music. Her third studio album entitled, All Eyez on Me was eventually released in October 2002; it would also be her first record under the lane, Clive Davis’ J Records. Inspired by contemporary R&B, the album consisted of thirteen tracks, most of which were co-written by Monica herself. However unlike her previous works, All Eyez on Me was initially only released in Japan; despite plans for a North American release at a later date, heavy bootlegging of the album on the internet led to many delays.
While All Eyez on Me was not as successful as her earlier albums, it did achieve moderate success, having ranked number fourteenth on the Japanese Albums Chart. Met with mixed reviews, the album as a whole was eventually partially redone, re-tooled and released as Monica’s fourth studio album, After the Store in June 2003.
Her next studio album would be released in October 2006. Entitled, The Makings of Me, the record was produced under the assistance of Bryan Michael Cox, Missy Elliott and Jermaine Dupri. Upon its release, The Makings of Me topped the Billboard Top R&B and Hip Hop Albums chart in the United States and eventually peaked at the number eighth spot on the Billboard 200 Chart. A moderate success with 92,000 copies sold during the first week, it would go on to sell over 328,000 units throughout the country. Later that same year, Monica would also play a cameo in the comedy film, ATL.
Carrying on with her professional music career, Monica released her sixth studio album entitled, Still Standing in March 2010. Produced by Ne-Yo, Polow da Don and Stargate, the album was met with positive reviews upon its release and was praised for its sounds of contemporary R&B. Still Standing went on to debut at the number two spot on the Billboard 200 Chart and eventually sold over 185,000 copies during the initial week of release; it would eventually also peak at the top of the Top R&B and Hip-Hop Albums Chart. Considered to be the best of the album, the lead single Everything to Me would later top the Hot R&B Singles Chartーher first to achieve such a feat since The Boy is Mine in 1998. The album would also earn her a nomination for a Grammy Award in 2011 for “Best R&B Album.”
Since then, Monica has released two more albumsーNew Life in 2012 and Code Red in 2015, with the latter having performed slightly better commercially. In support of her new record, the artist also embarked on her first concert tour in close to seven years, The Code Red Experience.
Married to professional basketball player Shannon Brown since November 2010, Monica has one child with Brown and two from an earlier marriage. Often spotted wearing loose-fitting clothes over the last few months, the music artist later confirmed the rumours that she is in fact, currently pregnant with her and Brown’s second child. She was recently seen in the public, alongside her husband of six years sporting her baby bump earlier this July.
It’s no doubt that the news was welcome for the couple, who had been under the lime light previously for having been rumoured to be involved in a scandalーwith Brown having possibly cheated on Monica. Earlier the same month, a blog on Instagram had supposedly claimed to have evidence pointing towards the fact that Brown had indeed, sired a child with a different woman. The source claimed that the child was born two years ago and that the mother had sent a photograph of the alleged pregnancy test to Monica’s Brother.
In response to the claims, Monica posted a photo of her husband on her own Instagram account, with a caption that made it clear that she did not have any plans on leaving her husband anytime soonーdespite the supposed allegations which had spread across the internet. In a later post, she also revealed that her husband had in fact, suffered from a life-threatening injury last year from a car accident and that she’s already happy with the fact that he’d survived. Shortly afterwards, Monica followed-up with a post to reassure fans that he has since made a full recovery.
In terms of media appearances, the singer has also guest starred in a number of American talk-shows these past twelve months including The Wendy Williams Show, The Chew and The Talk.