by John Tarpley
As a 15-year-old, Monica immediately separated herself from the flurry of samey-same young performers of the mid-'90s with the release of "Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)," an instant R&B classic and a defining junior high dance-floor-filler if there ever was one. Soon after, the young vocal gymnast found herself with a triple platinum debut album and a wave of expectation from fans. Not long after, she returned to the charts as half of an all-star duet with fellow teen-pop star Brandy in the Grammy-award winning "The Boy is Mine." In short, Monica churned out monster hit after monster hit for years. And junior high dances and church vans would never, ever be the same. Years later, Monica's hardly floating on '90s nostalgia; her last album, "Still Standing," debuted this March at No. 2 on the Billboard charts, thanks in part to her leading role in a hugely successful BET reality show of the same name. The promoters/producers of I Live the Good Life, who throw regular "Ladies' Night" parties, are billing this as "The Ultimate Ladies Night." It's pretty hard to disagree. Monica performs alongside new soul pianist K. Williams, local soul woman Jeron Marshall, the trumpet driven soul jazz of Rodney Block and a comedy set by Keith "Keef" Glason.