Inside D.C. entertainment

Lil' Mo on her new album, her theater experience, and life after radio

April 28, 2011 - 09:30 AM
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Lil' Mo, the R&B star who joined local radio station WPGC 95.5 as an afternoon host last year, parted ways with the station last week, ending her successful program, The Lil' Mo Show. The singer can’t talk about the specifics of the split, but wants fans to know that while she enjoyed her time at PGC, she is ready to refocus on her music.

“I won’t speak about WPGC, because that’s business, but I will say it was a great platform,” she says. “People heard me speak, and there is no better experience than to be heard. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. But it's time to do what I was called to do."

After a four year hiatus from music, Mo is promoting a single, "On the Floor," and readying both a mixtape and a new album, P.S. I Love Me.

"I released the single last year as a feeler, but we re-released it because, you know, it takes time for things to grow on people. I didn’t know Jennifer Lopez has a song with the same title! Not trying to be funny, but I think mine is better, because I sing a lil' better, but if we did a remix, and she came up with a dance for it, I think that would be a go," Mo says, laughing.

Mo first jumped into the spotlight in 2001, with the release of the Elektra album Based On A True Story. She frequently collaborated with hip-hop artists, including Fabolous and Missy Elliott, and is still probably best known for hits “Superwoman Pt. II” and "4eva." She is married, with three children, and lives in suburban Maryland. "I may be a mother of three, but I still think I’m 25," she says. "I'm never growing up. Somebody had the nerve to ask me, 'Are you part of the Illuminati? Did you sell your soul to the devil? Because you look good!' Child, people are a mess! Only me they ask that sort of thing. They would never ask Beyoncé that!"

The singer, who spent time on Baltimore radio before coming to WPGC, started the gig at the local station in March of 2010, taking over the afternoon slot when personality Big Tigger moved to mornings. (WPGC didn't immediately return a request for comment on the end of The Lil' Mo Show.)

And the same week Mo ended her relationship with WPGC, she finished up a guest spot in the two-week D.C. run of The Color Purple at the National Theatre."It was a challenge--they put me in so many scenes!" she says. "I had to get into character, go from laughing scenes to sad scenes--I had to control my emotions with my voice. I couldn't be Lil' Mo, or go in there acting like a diva. I couldn't come in, 'Oh, I sang "Superwoman."' Nobody cares. The theater crowd doesn’t know who Lil' Mo is."

Well, they didn't before her Color Purple stint, at least--Mo says fans of the show treated her incredibly well. "I got e-mails, cards, people waited at the stage door for hugs and said, 'Wow, you really amazed me! I didn’t think you’d bring that!' I think people thought, 'Oh, that's just the girl with the tattoos who is on the radio.' So, I was like, 'Yeah! See?'"

"With The Color Purple, I didn't audition, with WPGC, I didn't have to do an aircheck--that doesn’t happen for everybody," Mo continues. "They have auditions, call backs, they're told no. I'm grateful, not cocky. To get to tap into so many markets--radio, theater, singing--you have no choice but to give people all of you. God has opened windows no man can shut."

Mo says her diverse work experience also helped her in fine-tuning P.S. I Love Me. "The album was complete--I finished it two years ago, and was tweaking it while I was on radio," she says. "Being on radio let me hear what people want to hear, what they call and request. With P.S. I Love Me, I’m talking to myself saying, 'OK, WWMD--What Would Mo Do?' You’re a people person, and you had a fan base, but being on radio, new people like me now, and new people hate me now. I had to love myself for people to love me more, so I tweaked [the album] and went back and grabbed my friends."

Those friends include Missy Elliot, Tweet ("That gal ain’t never lost her touch," Mo says), PJ Morgan, rapper Maino, and MC Lyte.

"The MC Lyte one, I think I'm gonna put on my mixtape," Mo says. "I used to think I was MC Lyte in high school, I called her to do the song and didn’t even finish my vocals, I was just like, 'I got a song with MC Lyte!'"

The album is due this summer, but the teaser mixtape, MOther’s Day, P.S. I Love U, will be released on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 8. “I’m scared, my only fear is that, since it’s free, people will say, 'Oh you don’t have to give us an album yet,'" she says, laughing. "You know how with free food, free drinks, don’t it taste just a little bit better than what you have to pay for? My demographic might be like, ‘Child, we love the album, but we loooove the freebie.'”

Still, Mo says fans should expect big things from both projects. "For four years I’ve been gone, and it's going to be worth the wait," she says. "I'm not going to let you down--no mediocrity, I'm really singing all the way in. And 'On the Floor,' is just a song to let you know we 'bout to drop down low and sweep the floor with it."

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