And the Best Female Artist of the Year is ……… Monique English. This was the moment the NAMAs 2017 house came to a standstill with a mixture of emotions. And these emotions were amplified by voices – some cheering and others simply silenced as they took in the shock of the moment. Monique standing backstage doesn’t react because her surname is a very common English word … English ! Only when touched by fellow stablemate Doris, that’s when she realizes that in fact her name is being announced as the Female Artist of the Year 2017. Relatively new to the music circles, but be as it may, the 22-year old RnB rookie has stunned audiences by scooping a heavily contested categories at the country’s highest musical stages.
Her resume in the music industry is decorated by appearances such as having opened shows for artists like Trey Songz, Stefan Ludik, Anthony Hamilton, Mafikizolo and releasing her debut and winning album late last year. She has also collaborated with other artists like KK, KP Illest, Desmond, N.I.A and Ann Singer. In South Africa, she performed with Laurenzo Davids from Cape Town who has his own label, Vision Music Records. But it really all started at the age of nine in the school choir.
With two singles (‘Makes my Heart Go’ and ‘Destin’) and album ( Since 1994 ) as well as the performances stated above, one can simply not ignore the talent brought by a petite, pretty girl with dynamite in her voice. And on the evening, it was Monique and Gazza who became N$100 000 richer each in the biggest category.
“I released my album in November last year and I should say I have received good feedback since. I put my heart and soul in this album. So winning the NAMAs means that it was good music. But also it’s the hard work, perseverance and wanting this so much,” said the starlet.
She adds; “I did not see this coming. I was shocked. In fact, since I did not win in the other categories that I was nominated, I thought to myself that it was probably not going to be my day. My hopes were pinned on winning best RnB.” In the heavily contested category, Monique rubbed shoulders with heavyweights like the established Oteya, Adora, Priscilla and stable-mates Doris and Florence – but elbowed them all to clinch the songstress of the year award.
While Monique might not have enjoyed so much prominence, her singing journey started at school. Born and bred in the coastal town of Swakopmund, her vocal identity started under the wings of her mother who she remains grateful for the direction and unending support.
“It’s not common practice that parents support their children to do music but my mother helped me from day one. A lot of parents never understand this. They don’t approve of music. My mom is my inspiration. I really appreciate her because she supports my singing career. She supports my dreams.”
After completing high school, Monique enrolled at the University of Namibia, pursuing a degree in Microbiology but soon realized this is not her field. Now in the good hands and management of Antonio’s Deal Done Records, the starlet’s big win is surely one of many to come. The stable has managed to propel the careers of local artists such as Ann Singer, Fishman and many others. And this year, all three entrants from the record scooped NAMA awards in their nominated categories. Florence won the Best Reggae while Doris won Best House and Best Afro Pop, taking four under the Deal Done Records roof.
“People didn’t expect me to win while others say I don’t deserve it. As a newcomer, I think now people are expecting a lot from me so it is time to live up to the award. I feel the pressure but it is time to prove myself, especially to people who heard my name the first time when I was announced as winner. People can expect to see more of me doing good music. I do not want to let my fans down.”
The star said with price money, she aims to invest it in her music, starting with shooting a couple of videos. She adds that she has already started thinking of her next album, with her fans saying she could add a House flair in her next project.
Besides music, the starlet keeps herself busy with her 8 to 5 job. It is then after work that she makes time for the studio or spends some time with her dog. While the world praises women for steering their children to victory, Monique is another living testimony – being raised by her mother alone with other four siblings.
Asked how the future looks for her, Monique said she accepts the challenge of living up to the award, something she believes will also grow her. She has dreams of spreading her wings to ensure she takes the Namibian name beyond our borders.
“My victory was all about hard work and the love for what I do. And no, I’m not planning on fading out. I just want to say thanks to everyone that has supported me. I appreciate everyone who came forth saying that I deserve this.”