The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought about disruptions to every facet of human endeavor, at a scale not seen in modern history. Healthcare delivery, education, finance, entertainment have all borne the brunt of the rampaging disease, with very few reasons to celebrate.
The disruptions, however, have brought about a rethink of many processes, with positive effects for a number of institutions and persons. In the thick of the pandemic, a few persons resolved to live their lives to the fullest, having been reminded of the uncertainty that abounds for the future.
One such person is budding singer and fashion entrepreneur, Mona Faiz Montrage, better known as Mona4Reall, who decided to end the internal debate and fully launch her music career and showcase to the world what she has to offer. Below, we look at the journey of the Princess of Tamale, from bold little singer to the top of global charts.
Early life and education
Born in Tamale, the capital of the Northern Region, to a Lebanese father and a Ghanaian mother, Mona Faiz Montrage was the ‘princess of the house’, being the only girl amongst six brothers. Little Mona played the part, oscillating between her musical interests and playing with her brothers, an experience which she credits for giving her a fuller perspective on life, being able to balance.
Speaking on her childhood, which she describes as that of the ‘normal Ghanaian kid’, she says, “Growing up was lovely and I have many fond memories. Being around boys and engaging in activities that were male dominated has made me tough… I used to climb trees with my brothers, play football, ride bicycles to school, go hunting with my dad, the whole nine yards.
Mona began her nursery school education at the Alhassan Gbanzaba Memorial School in Tamale; named after the first university graduate from the Northern Region of Ghana, Edmund Alhassan, and well known for its illustrious alumni, including Ghana’s 2019 national Spelling Bee champion, Nadia Chelpang Mashould.
Aged 16, she gained admission to the Labone Secondary School where she gained a reputation for her music and dance prowess. Subsequently, she proceeded to the Art Institute of New York, USA, to hone her fashion designing skills.
Having shown a penchant for the arts, particularly music, at an early age, Mona was encouraged to pursue her dreams but not at the expense of attaining higher education. “I would be on my dad’s case to get me compact disks which contained songs and videos of some of my favourites like Shakira and Beyonce,” she recalls.
Having modeled for a number of avant-garde establishments, Mona caught the attention of the music world due to her unique bond with Charles Nii Armah Mensah Jr., better known as Shatta Wale, with her serving as inspiration for a number of records, including the critically acclaimed ‘Hol’ it’, as well as starring as his love interest in the video for another well-received record ‘Bullet Proof’.
Whilst debating whether or not to pursue music fully, COVID-19 struck, making her reevaluate her aspirations and double down on what she knew was the right course to chart.
According to Mona, “I had recorded a number of songs but I was just waiting for the right time, I just felt I had to be perfect and put in so much work and I never felt fully ready but after what happened in 2020, with COVID-19, I realised that if I wanted to chase my dreams, I had to do it and do it now.”
This has seen her hire a voice coach and a dance instructor, to help perfect her craft. The hard work has paid off with her first three singles – Badder Than, Fine Girl, God’s Child – receiving rave reviews. It appears these would be eclipsed by her latest and first collaborative effort – My Baby – featuring none other than Shatta Wale.
Of the song which contains lines such as, “…I just wanna be your baby, your baby…
Everybody say I dey mad but I don’t mind…” she says, “This is my first collaboration and I am super excited not only because it is with Shatta Wale but also because it is a good one.”
Mona is currently signed on as an act under a joint partnership with a leading angel investment firm – Quick Angels; and is expected to expand her music offerings under this partnership through ‘4reall Entertainment’.
She concurrently serves as the brand ambassador for Pinkberry Ghana and Richie Rich gummies, and as the face of indigenous telecommunication outfit, Coli.
Making use of that education from the Art Institute of New York, she owns and operates 4reall Beauty and the children-focused 4reall Kids. “I would have been an actress,” she says of an alternate career, “I love the camera and it appears the camera loves me as well.” Horror movies are her preferred choice for viewing, with the American slasher film – Hush – currently at the top of her playlist.
Mona holds forth her family – father, mother, and brothers – as some of the biggest influences in her life. She also lists the aforementioned Beyonce as well as Nicki Minaj, as some of the most instrumental music and style influences. Speaking of the latter she says, “I really love her music and her as a style icon, hopefully, I’ll be meeting her sometime soon.”
Following the success of her singles, Mona4Reall says an Extended Play (EP) effort should be out by the end of the year. “Very soon, we’ll be rolling out a fashion line for men and women and I will be designing them,” she says of her growing fashion line. “I am a businesswoman and a musician as well.”
In her own words
“I have been overwhelmed by the love and support I have received from my colleagues and fans, I did not know what to expect and it scared me but it has been amazing and encouraging and I want to do more. Hard work and more hard work’s necessary if I am to attain global success.”