April 19, 2010 in Features

It’s time to meet Ms. Thang

Mesfin Fekadu Associated Press

(Full-size photo)

Monica, who debuted at 15 with the multiplatinum-selling CD “Miss Thang,” wasn’t one who succumbed to celebrity pitfalls as a child star.

Still, growing up was hard.

“I experienced a lot of different hardships. The suicide of my first love, the death of my grandmother, the loss of a lot of different things that happened in the public eye that I didn’t get a chance to step away and grieve and live like your average person would,” says Monica, 29.

That’s why on her new CD, “Still Standing” – her first in four years – you’ll hear a familiar refrain from the singer proclaiming how, on the verge of 30, she’s fully matured.

“When I say I’m not who I used to be, I mean that some of the things that’s happened in my life, they were just consequences to my own actions, me not making great decisions, me not picking the right people to be around and keep in my company,” she explains.

“Still Standing,” her fifth album, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart.

One thing that’s helped is Monica’s reality show on BET – also titled “Still Standing” – connecting the R&B songstress to a younger audience. She says she’s in negotiations with the network for a second season.

Now that she’s back on the scene, Monica would like to make more albums consecutively, but says she’s not sure she won’t take years off like she’s done in the past.

“My last hiatus was because I had my children two years apart, they’re 2 and 4 now, so they’re at the ages where I can step back out and travel,” she says.

“It just depends on what my life may bring.”

The birthday bunch

Actor Hugh O’Brian is 85. Actress Elinor Donahue (“Father Knows Best”) is 73. Actor Tim Curry is 64. Hip-hop mogul Suge Knight is 45. Actress Ashley Judd is 42. Actor James Franco is 32. Actress Kate Hudson is 31. Actor Hayden Christensen is 29.

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