Monique wasn't always outspoken, in fact growing up in Los Angeles, she was considered shy by most. The child of a tumultuous union of two young people from completely different worlds, Monique never really fit in with what was considered the norm. A fiery Irish mother and an African American father who met in east Africa, Monique found herself without any real guidelines for how she ought to be in the world. She wasn't black, she wasn't white. For most of her life, she wasn't comfortable in her own skin.
Monique loves to perform, she lights up a room and an audience with her intimate look at life. Her songwriting skills move her to the head of the class- musically she takes us through jazz, pop, soul and rock. She is honest, she is real and she shares life's stories with the openness of a child. 'I'll never forget-once after a performance a woman was telling me what a great job I did. I could tell she was searching for words, inside I knew she didn't know what to make of it. She said, trying to be nice, but really not feeling that way, 'you just really put yourself out there. It's almost like therapy for you, huh?' She was right. 'Although she didn't find it appropriate to tell those stories that don't always make you look good, like you've got it all together, I do. Who are we if we can't be honest about what we feel? What is the point of music if it does not move you in some way?'
'What I've realized is that ultimately, I was the one person holding me back. It wasn't the boy in junior high who yelled at me to get a hair style, it wasn't my best friend in elementary school who was the object of desire for the boy I liked, it wasn't the poor people in my neighborhood, or the rich people who I went to college with. It was me ultimately holding myself from the things I loved and I realized it would be me who could make myself free.'
With her debut album, Choose the Experience vol 1: Ready for Love, Monique has followed her own advice. She has. It is masterful, soul searching, beautifully written and exciting. She starts the album with a song she's probably been singing all her life unconsciously, Recognize. It's heavy rock- yelling for the attention it deserves. Lyrically Monique presents nothing but the truth. Recognize, she's alive, and she may not be at her best now, but God knows she tries... The album has quippy, humorous interludes that help to keep you in step as she covers a great deal of emotional and musical terrain throughout the 13 tracks. She covers letting go of the not good for you love in a soul filled Walk Away, she falls so deep into lustful, passionate love with Captivity and then sets forth to cover the pains of love loss, disappointment and solitude with Promise of Forever and Where do I Stand with you?
'All these songs come from direct personal episodes in my life- often with lyrics coming straight from conversations I've had with these people...embarrassingly enough. But with each experience if you catch on to the game that is life, you learn something valuable for your next experience and then realize that life is truly what you make of it. You really do get to choose your own experience. Sure, the bastard leaves you, but does he have to be a bastard? Can't you decide that he was brought into your life to help you see your true worth and take a stand for yourself? It all comes down to choice.'
Monique finishes volume one with On your Way, an ode to a past love giving him the gift of thank you for the time we did share and then what she calls her theme song, Love will be There. Monique has introduced this song as her theme song- 'I'll be singing this song as I walk down the street, while I'm taking a shower, after I've met someone really hot.' She says it's for anyone who has ever tried to rush love, who hasn't? when the time and place is right, and your dreams are all in sight, love will be there.
Throughout her brief performance history, Monique has always attracted a diverse, multi-racial audience who are drawn by her open-minded approach to music. 'I do what I do and that's it. I can't do more and refuse to do less. I think my fan base is so diverse because everyone relates to this music. Everyone. I haven't yet met a person who hasn't had their heart trounced on. I haven't yet met someone who says they've never needed to be recognized for the beautiful energy that they are. We all relate to raw emotions because we all have them.'
She is what she is. How does she describe herself? As a recently self- discovered beauty who rises to the challenge everyday of standing up for herself and her music.