Folks tend to lament the market that confronts artists such as Ms. Monique. However, when people like me wonder why a performer of Ms. Monique’s gifts can’t get more shine in today’s youth oriented market, we engage in a little bit of selective memory. If Ms. Monique had been active in the 1970s when I was forming my musical tastes, she would have been classified with female vocalists such as Millie Jackson, Candi Staton, Betty Wright and Gladys Knight. In most cases, I would have probably been switching to a station that was playing Parliament, Cameo or some other funk-oriented band whenever her music came on. Nothing personal, that’s just where I was back then. Of course, urban radio had plenty of the kind of adult women listeners to whom Ms. Monique speaks, and stations then managed to have room for both the Invisible Man’s Band and the Ms. Moniques of the music world.
Urban radio has become less diverse since the late 1980s and 90s as station managers followed their youthful listeners whose tastes shifted from the New Jack Swing of the late 80s to the hip-hop/R&B fusion of today. The result is that a performer like Ms. Monique has been squeezed from the radio or placed in sub-genres where her sound fits – albeit somewhat uncomfortably. Still, the native Floridian has remained on her preferred adult soul path through the course of her two albums, Soul Sessions Chapter I, and the recently released She Motions.
I long ago reached the point where I can appreciate the mature and worldly viewpoint that Ms. Monique brings on She Motions. Ms. Monique showcases vocal, lyrical, topical and musical virtues on She Motions that plenty of listeners will find extremely appealing. She has a mature voice that easily moves from up-tempo party tack such as “Tonight,” which finds the vocalist preparing to hit the town, to mid-tempo numbers such as “Luvz On Lock,” in which Ms. Monique sings about the dead bolt security of the love she shares with her man.
Topically, Ms. Monique can convincingly sing about the shortcomings she brings to the relationship game while also not cutting two timing, unappreciative men any slack. She addresses her learning process and evolution as a woman on the album’s opening track “Becoming The Man I Want,” while declaring her determination to live life on her terms on the anthem “Finally Free.”
A talented performer such as Ms. Monique will find it hard to receive the notoriety that she deserves until urban radio and major media realize that people over the age of 30 listen to and buy music. What’s more, if some of the kids get a listen, they’ll find that a performer like Ms. Monique has a good deal to offer to music fans of all ages. Highly Recommended.
By Howard Dukes