It was almost 19 years ago that Atlanta music producer Dallas Austin discovered a young, preteen singer named Monica Arnold belting out a Whitney Houston tune at Center Stage. Ironically, this week that same singer — R&B’s Monica — was still giving tribute to Houston, “killing it” (in a good way) with “I’ll Always Love You” and “You Give Good Love” days after Houston was killing those same songs (in a not-so-good way) in a concert tour abroad.
In a 45-minute performance Thursday night at the W Hotel Midtown, Monica treated a couple of hundred fans to a free show as part of radio station V103’s Soul Sessions. The 29-year-old singer from College Park mixed old and new, starting the night out with “Still Standing,” the title cut from her new album released a few weeks ago. She then immediately headed back to 1995 to her debut single “Don’t take it Personal (Just One of Dem Days),” followed by “Before You Walk Out of My Life.”
For certain, fans were expecting to hear some of the old, popular tunes. But the singer’s voice sounded the strongest and most confident with the lyrical testimonies of “Love All Over Me” and “Here I Am.” Monica looked great on stage – first in bejeweled leather jacket and funky Run DMC T-shirt and later in a black tuxedo like jacket. (See photos from show.) Her performance was flirty, bold and fun all at the same time. She seemed to have the most fun imitating the diva-isms (hands on hips, long pauses, sipping from a teacup) of her –friend Whitney.
In the end, Monica at home on the stage, and Atlantans seemed happy to have her there. If you were there, what did you think of the show?