Monica'Still Standing,' the sixth album from R&B singing great Monica, will finally see release on March 23. It's been four years since her last full-length recording dropped, but she says she can't simply blame the music industry for the break.

"I started working on the album and I got pregnant with my second son," she tells The BoomBox, referring to Romelo, who's now two. "I've always been very in tune with my family, you know, just being close, and I wanted to spend a certain amount of time with them first before I jumped back into promoting a record because I knew how much that would have me away from home. And though most times they travel with me, there are certain situations where they're not able to go."

She also says that taking time off to prepare and nest did have a palpable effect on the new songs, sending her in a more positive direction. "Having something that beautiful happen to me at that time, it put me back in a really good space where I could sing about love and not just have male-bashing angry records," she laughs. "I had a good combination [on this album]."

'Still Standing' was a unique album for Monica in many ways, but primarily since it was her first to show key moments behind the scenes of its creation through her BET reality show of the same name. "I really do have a close relationship with [my fans] because when I really came into the music industry in '95, I had no understanding for what was proper, what was right, what was wrong, what you should and should not say. That connected me to a real strong core of people that recognize that I'm just like them. And not 'til I was much older did I understand that would be the one thing that helped me continue to have a long-term career because we have a real relationship with one another. I don't know every single one, but there are things about me that most artists would not tell or would not let them know or would not let them see. And I'm just not like that. I think we're all human, I have a different job than yours, so if I make mistakes along the way it's to be expected. Even though nowadays people are very judgmental, I still don't live in a box because of that."

Throughout the season, the audience saw her record many songs and wrestle with making the perfect album that would please her longtime fans and open her up to a wider new audience as well. While many songs on 'Still Standing' have been heard on the tube already, Monica continued to record new material up until a few weeks ago and promises surprises even for faithful watchers of the program -- a move she felt was essential to keep everything fresh.

"That's one way to try and protect things," she explains, "instead of having a catalog of things that you're trying to hold on to for 10 or 11 months and then you look up and they're selling it in the beauty shop for five dollars!"

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