The "First Lady of Uptown," Monifah has simply forced all heads to stop, look and listen. The public got a taste of Monifah's flavor last fall with the release of the smash hit single, "I Miss You (Come Back Home)" from the New York Undercover Soundtrack. Fueled by a red-hot remix featuring rapper AZ, the single remained on the R&B album charts for an impressive seven month period. Now she's set to unleash her soulful debut album, Moods...Moments, a purely intoxicating fusion of jazz, gospel, blues and hip-hop.
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Veteran hip-hop fixture, as well as Uptown President and executive producer of Moods...Moments, Heavy D has this to offer on his protégé and up and coming star: "Monifah is in a class by herself. It's rare for a performer to have a voice ranging from jazz to hip-hop and R&B. Everyone will fall in love with her."
Born in the Spanish Harlem section of New York, Monifah is by no means a stranger to the entertainment industry. As a child, she was surrounded by a family that actively participated in making music with the majority of her relatives all singing semi-professionally. A wide variety of tunes from Ma Rainey's blues to Tina Turner and Gladys Knight were constantly played in her household. Monifah recollects fondly, "My mom and I used to put on little shows in the house and there was always someone playing my grandmother's piano." Recognizing her talent, Monifah's mother soon began to take her on auditions for children's roles within musical theaters, which eventually led to her role in the off-Broadway musical production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." She then attended the prestigious LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts with talented schoolmates such as Omar Epps, N'Bushe Wright and Marion Wayans.
Monifah was determined to pursue singing professionally and soon wound up singing back-up for Maxi Priest on his sold-out world tour. From that experience, Monifah got a real sense of what life on the road was like and to perform in front of thousands. Eventually, she came to the attention of Heavy D, who then secured her a deal at Uptown Records.
When it was time to name the album, Monifah says that the title came quite naturally. "I felt that the lyrics and music depict different moods and moments that people experience in their lives, whether it's thoughts or experiences with loved ones, friends or lovers," she explains.
No other track exemplifies that statement better than the sensual "You," produced and written by Heavy D (Soul IV Real) and Vincent Herbert (Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston), as it offers her audience yet another appealing side of this versatile chanteuse. To Monifah, her favorite song "You Don't Have To Love Me," is a testament to "independence, self-reliance and not depending on anyone else." Her stirring rendition of The Commodore's classic, "Jesus Is Love," features the Boys Choir of Harlem. The track is clearly the albums spiritual apex. "When it comes down to it, I'm always gonna do the right thing," she states sincerely. "Change comes through unification, and I think every artist has a responsibility to pull our young people together and allow positive messages to flow through our music."
Monifah worked closely with a top-notch production team headed by Heavy D ("I Miss You," "Jesus Is Love," "You" and others). Other producers and stand-out tracks: Trackmasterz ("Don't Waste My Time") and Vincent Herbert ("You"). The end result is a diverse collection of songs that is sure to establish Monifah as one of today's supreme songstresses.
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