Lil' Mo

Lil' Mo is short in stature, not even hitting five feet in height, but there's nothing little about her drive, heart, or talent. Born Cynthia Loving, she was raised on Long Island but suffered frequent moves as the family followed her dad through the course of his military career transfers. The lack of permanent roots didn't keep her from knowing exactly where she wanted to end up: Manhattan. She wanted to make her mark there by becoming an entertainer, and she set her course for a way to get what she wanted. Wherever the family happened to be living, she competed in talent competitions. Later, with a contract in hand, she had to stand her ground when record company executives wanted to force a certain look on her, rather than allow her to sport the rainbow braids that have become something of a trademark for the singer. Once that particular battle was fought and won, she endured two years of anxiety as she waited for her debut to be released. The waiting was perhaps the hardest, and it brought Lil' Mo to the point where she was considering a switch to simply songwriting, rather than singing and performing. Thanks to the intervention of heavyweights such as Snoop Dogg and Jay-Z, however, she stuck it out. The welcome she received from the public and the community of music artists made the long wait worth her while. Lil' Mo's 2001 debut album, Based on a True Story, was a success. The singer penned every track but one, "Time After Time," which was originally recorded by another rainbow-haired crooner, Cyndi Lauper. Lil' Mo has collaborated on "Hot Boyz" with Missy Elliott, and Elliott subsequently became a trusted advisor and friend. Lil' Mo also collaborated with Ja Rule on his "Put It on Me," and is featured on "Parking Lot Pimping" by Jay-Z. She has performed with, or written songs for, a long list of artists that includes Blackstreet, Next, Lil' Bow Wow, Keith Sweat, 3LW, and ODB.