A live collaboration with Brandi Carlile and a guest spot on a Jimmie Allen song won't be R&B star Monica's only forays into country music. In a new interview with Billboard, the singer shares more about a full country album she's been working on, inspired by the legends she listened to growing up.

Billboard reports that Monica was recently in the studio with Carlile, and had a country music album in the works even before her collaboration with Allen — a song called "Pray," also featuring Little Big Town, on the gold edition of his Bettie James album. In fact, Monica met LBT while she was working with Carlile.

"I heard harmonies up the hallway," Monica remembers, explaining that the voices were Little Big Town's.

"Jimmie Allen is an incredible guy who loves his family and knows they’ve brought him through a tremendous amount of things. That’s what we related most about," she adds. "Jimmie didn’t call me for “Pray” because he heard I was doing a country album — no one knew. He called because he wanted me on it; that means it was meant [to be]."

Monica tells Billboard that the country album, the details of which have not yet been revealed, "may be out before the end of the year." The artist says she "grew up loving country music," and visited Nashville, Gatlinburg and Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., with her stepfather, a Methodist minister and bus driver.

"I became a really big fan of Dolly Parton at about 8 or 9 years old. That was my real introduction to country music," Monica recalls. "Shortly after, it was Kenny Rogers. I started listening to the depth of the songs and the fact that they were unafraid to say whatever it was they felt."

Monica first rose to fame in the early 1990s, after signing to Rowdy Records at the age of 12. In addition to hits such as "Angel of Mine" and "The Boy Is Mine" — the latter a duet with fellow R&B artist Brandy — she acted on shows including Felicity and Living Single.

In addition to her country album, Monica is prepping for the release of Trenches, a new R&B album, to be released on her own label, MonDeenise Music. Working on two records at once might sound hectic, but the artist says the time is right to make her country project dreams come true.

"I felt like this was a great time for me to really step into an area that I’ve always admired and loved," Monica says. "We’re just getting started, but I have so enjoyed it and been welcomed with open arms."

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