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Monica Makes Country Music Debut, Announces Album at CMT Awards

Courtesy CMT
Country music awards shows are not usually the place to get the latest and greatest news on R&B icons, but that was the case at Monday night's 2022 CMT Music Awards.

Monica, one of the medium's greatest talents, as well as the first artist to top the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart over the span of three consecutive decades (1990s, 2000s, and 2010s), made her country music debut as well as confirmed her upcoming entry into the genre, "Open Roads."

Arriving on the red carpet at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium, the star made her intentions clear as she was interviewed.

"I'm here working on my country album "Open Roads," executive produced by [renowned country singer] Brandi Carlile, which is unbelievably amazing," she said. "So these things have just been aligning themselves. God's been good to me."

While it is no secret that the singer had ambitions of making a country album, the statement by the artist made it clear that it may be coming sooner than thought after she first announced the project in 2021.

“I grew up loving country music and my stepfather, who raised me, is a Methodist minister, but he also drove buses and he would take us to Nashville, Gatlinburg and Dollywood in Tennessee,” she told Billboard at the time of her reasons for pursuing the project.

“I became a really big fan of Dolly Parton, at about 8 or 9 years old. That was my real introduction to country music. Shortly after, it was Kenny Rogers. I started listening to the depth of the songs and the fact that they were unafraid to say whatever it was they felt. I felt like this was a great time for me to really step into an area that I’ve always admired and loved. We’re just getting started, but I have so enjoyed it and been welcomed with open arms.”

Later that night, the audience got its first taste of Monica's take on country. Her collaborative ballad, "Pray," with country music stars Jimmie Allen and Little Big Town, seemed to be well received.

The song, a call for prayer, faith, and a return to religion for healing during the world's current state of upheaval, showcased Monica's resonant tenor that meshed well with both the arrangement and the voices of Allen and Little Big Town.

Watch the performance below.

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