Music Sheet: Inspired by Tragedy: Enter Monica




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Tara Casanova

A sexy demeanor, a cache full of sultry songs — "The Boy Is Mine," "All Eyez On Me" — you wouldn’t think that R&B sensation Monica Arnold, 22, spends the balance of her time at home.

"I’m a real homebody in the sense of cooking, cleaning and watching movies," Arnold told Essence magazine. "When we work, we owe a certain amount of ourselves to our fans, and you should give it your all. But, being out every night of the week is not considered giving your all to me."

Arnold says she’s been forced to grow up since the release of her debut album "The Boy Is Mine" five years ago. The Georgia peach whose roots are entrenched in her church’s choir, says her boyfriend’s suicide and the sudden death of her cousin had strongly influenced her song-writing abilities.

"I’ve grown up a lot," Arnold said in the Essence interview. "Some of it by force and some of it naturally. But everything I’ve experienced has made the ‘All Eyez On Me’ album so much better." "All Eyez On Me" (released in Japan) has been re-recorded as "After the Storm" for the US market, which features different tracks and production.

Arnold says recording the album was therapeutic because she was dealing with reality.

"You can hide behind so many things and never face the truth of what happened," Arnold says. "I think the hardest thing for a lot of people when they face hardships is to find positive in the negative."

Arnold says with every negative experience, she has found something deep within herself that she never knew was there. Of course, she explains, that doesn’t take away the pain — it just makes it a little easier to cope with tragedy.

"Writing is just the first step," Arnold says. "I still have to go and sing with the type of delivery that will make other people like it as well."

It is hard, but it’s something that Arnold says she continuously deals with.

"Just facing reality — coming to the forefront instead of running and hiding," she says.

Arnold has taken some time to expand her creative skills into acting. In 2000, she starred in the MTV movie "Love Song," portraying a young woman whose life is turned upside down by a New Orleans blues musician.

Arnold also starred in "Boys And Girls" with Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jason Biggs. In addition, Arnold was featured on the "Down To Earth" soundtrack, singing the single, "Just Another Girl."

Arnold confesses the "All Eyez On Me" title was the hardest part of cutting the album, because she didn’t want her fans to take the title literally. The songs are positioned to recount the last four years of Arnold’s tragic life.

"So for the moment that you are listening to the album," Arnold says, "I want you to be able to take a look into my life. That’s basically why I chose that title."

Although Arnold does project an air of sexiness, the southern belle manages to do it in the realm of good taste, unlike many of her contemporaries.

"I feel you should always do things that your kids can look at 10 years from now," Arnold says. "And if it’s something that they can’t — why did you do it? Is it all for the idea of being famous?"

Arnold says she just doesn’t get it. And maybe it’s the Southern side of her that doesn’t allow her to.

"I think that when you disrespect yourself, it’s easy for others to disrespect you."


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