Monique was born in Birmingham (UK), to Pastor Clement Reid and Sonia Reid. As the youngest of their six children, she joined the family band at the age of 3 years old.
The ‘Reid Family’ performed together at church services and concerts which gave Monique a solid foundation in both the church and its music. Starting with Monique's grandmother, Doris Nembhard (who was the church organist and Choir Director at Life and Light Fellowship Church for over 60 years), her family is rich in the heritage of Gospel music.
As a teenager, Monique went through a rebellious phase and at the age of 15-16 she left church and home after deciding to follow her own path.
Monique went from singing gospel, to singing secular music overnight. By the time she reached her early 20s, she was in demand as a session singer. “From my teenage years to my late 20s, I got to record and perform with great artists such as Grammy award winning reggae band- Steel Pulse, UB40, Beverley Knight, Black Voices, China Black and Michael Bolton (as well as many local bands). I loved singing and being on the road, it was the most natural thing in the world to me, even though it was hard when I became a single parent.”
Although Monique was no longer in church, her seed of faith kept growing. Even at her lowest moments Monique felt that God was ever present. “I always knew my parents and grandparents were praying for me. If it wasn’t for their prayers, I know I wouldn’t be here today. I went through some dark moments in my life but God kept me".
Monique re-dedicated her life back to Christ in her late 20s but continued to session-sing whilst she attempted to rebuild her relationship with God. “I had a deep desire to continue singing and it didn’t matter what I sang as long as I was on stage singing. I went as far as entering competitions like the X-Factor, The Voice, VH1 Born to Diva and auditioning for roles in musical theatre; not because I wanted to be famous, I just wanted to sing and that's all I ever wanted to do from since I was a little girl”. With each rejection, Monique’s confidence was knocked.
In 2012 she began focusing her time on singing in church, and through using her gift to share the gospel, she finally felt the fulfilment she had longed for. As well as performing as a solo artist, Monique loved singing with her big sister Denise Wilson, who is an accomplished pianist and one of Birmingham's best Choir Directors......... and also beside her big brother Reed Bass, who is one of the UK's leading bassists.
After firmly putting her auditioning days behind her, in 2020 she received a message with a link to the trailer for the BBC Gospel Singer of The Year competition. Remembering her decision never to enter another competition, Monique dismissed the message but she couldn’t shake it from her mind. “I was in a different place spiritually and although my desire and passion for singing was great, I had no intention of doing anything outside of God’s will for my life”. Not wanting to move without God’s endorsement, she put the decision in His hands through prayer. Two days before the closing date, she received a ‘yes’ from God, and submitted her entry to the BBC.
To Monique’s astonishment, she was crowned the first ever BBC Songs of Praise Gospel Singer of The Year 2021. Her heart stopping rendition of Lionel Richie’s classic, ‘Jesus is Love’ received rave reviews from judges Alexandra Burke, David Grant and Heather Small, solidifying Monique’s status as a bonafide gospel artist. “After so many knockbacks it was hard to believe that I had actually won. I understand now that God had a plan for my life and that He wanted me to use the gift He had given me to share the gospel and not for entertainment.............."
"............being able to enter into full-time ministry is a blessing and I thank God everyday for opening so many doors for me. My aim is to share the gospel in song as far and as wide as He will allow".
Monique is married with four children and is a member of Life and Light Fellowship Church, in Birmingham. In 2008 she graduated from Birmingham City University with a 2:1 Bachelor of Laws degree (with honours) and practised in Family Law for a number of years before venturing into Youth Work.
In 2021 Monique went into full-time ministry, with the hope of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ all over the world.
Question: Who first got you into music?
Monique: My mum and dad. They were both into music. My mum sang and played the guitar and my dad managed the group she was in called 'The Soul Seekers'. The band would regularly rehearse at our house in the early days, so we were always surrounded by live music. My siblings and I had no choice as to whether or not we sang or played an instrument, that was decided for us by merely being born into a family of musicians.
Question: What was the first solo/lead song you recall singing?
Monique: Walk Around Heaven (Might Clouds of Joy) when I was around 8 years old. My sister Denise sat with me for days teaching me the song, we practiced the 'I need you, I need you to be my guide.....pleeeaaaase' high bits continuously until I got it right!
Question: What was your first experience of writing music/songs?
Monique: My first attempt was when I was in a group called Black Voices. Up until that point, I had never written a song and didn't understand the art of creating music. There was something about experiencing the raw oral tradition of singing a-cappella, and understanding how harmonies and sounds blend that gave me a new appreciation for music.
Question: Which recording artists were your earliest musical influences?
Monique: Shirley Caesar, Jim Reeves, Andrae Crouch, Danniebelle Hall, The Winans, The Hawkins Family, The Clark Sisters, Take 6 and Commissioned. As much as our home was filled with gospel influences from the USA, my dad's reggae 'Tabernacle Records' was more akin to what we heard every week at church. Both my parents were born in Jamaica and they came to the UK in the 60s. Reggae was one of my earliest foundational music influences. Every chorus and hymn we sang at church, no matter how traditional in design, had a reggae vibe. When I left church, I preferred listening to ragga/reggae over the more popular genres of soul, hip-hop and RnB. My favourite artists back then were Dennis Brown, Beres Hammond, Barrington Levy and of course, Bob.
My love of reggae spilled over into my choice of gospel music when I returned to church, with Papa San and Chevelle Franklin topping my playlist. More recently, included in my Gospel reggae favourites are Samuel Medas, Dwayne Fyah and DJ Nicholas.
Question: Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Monique: Easy....The First Lady of Gospel.....Pastor Shirley Caesar.
Question: What's the top 10 songs on your Spotify 'liked' playlist?
Monique: In no particular order:
*Best Thing (Jonathan McReynolds)
*Like There's No Tomorrow (Sam Medas)
*We Shall Walk in the Valley in Peace (The Aeolians of Oakwood University)
*Voice of God (Dante Bowe)
*Lord you are Good (Todd Galberth)
*Living this Kind of Life ( (a remake of Andrae Crouch's hit by Peter Collins/Myron Butler)
*Next In Line for a Miracle (Shirley Caesar)
*I know too much about Him (Smokie Norful)
*How Deep The Father's Love For Us (Selah)
*I will never (Dwayne Fyah)
Question: Which famous gospel artists/musicians do you admire for their contribution to gospel music?
Monique: Pastor Shirley Caesar. I love the old school, toe-tappin', tambourine-playing kind of gospel. Shirley Caesar has dedicated her life to sharing the gospel in song and in addition to her being a preacher and Pastor, her unique sound, strength in delivery and her integrity is a legacy that is unrivalled. (For the record..... I would also include The Winans, Andrae Crouch, Walter & Edwin Hawkins and Richard Smallwood in my list of great contributors to gospel music, but Pastor Shirley Caesar tops my list).
In the UK...... Lurine Cato MBE I first saw Lurine sing in 2015 in Birmingham (she was one of the supporting artists for Kirk Franklin). Not only was I blown away by her voice, I was moved by her resolute to worship whilst on stage rather than letting it be just all a 'show'. I love the fact that she uses her platform and her gift to share the gospel and to support worthy charitable causes, including undertaking community work.
Question: What is the best advice you’ve been given as a vocalist?
Monique: "It's not about you!"
Question: If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
Monique: Ageism. Yes, it exists in the music industry and unless you have achieved any notable success in your youth.....there's no chance of you ever being picked up by a major record label in your later years. In saying that, with the growing use of social media, it's a bit easier for artists to get their music out independently.
Question: What’s next for you?
Monique: I serve a God of 'open doors'. He orchestrated for me to win BBC's Gospel Singer of the Year in 2021, and I have placed my music ministry in the palm of His hands. In all things I am mindful to ensure my steps are ordered by God and that I remain obedient to His calling. So.....watch this space