Marsha Ambrosius is back with her new solo name, solo brand and solo album ready to take R&B by storm. You might remember Floetry, Ambrosius’ former group that rose to prominence in the late ’90s. Since she made the switch Marsha has indeed been a busy bee. After the release of Late Nights, she wrapped an international tour, shot a cameo as herself on the blockbuster hit Best Man Holiday and is gearing up to release her second album Friends and Lovers.

Yet, Marsha insists that her strides towards solo success largely center around cultivating her ability to directly communicate with fans via social media. Marsha credits her followers and fans with giving her great inspiration from their various stories: “Because I’ve gotten a song idea via Twitter and I really said ‘that would make a great song.’”

Yet, to backtrack, one wonders what exactly happened with Floetry. Many neo-soul fans (and a lot of feminists) heralded Floetry because of their iconic musical presentation and their ability as women entertainers to engage an audience without banking on sex appeal. Their partnership culminated with their break in 2006, after three studio-albums and a near- decade long personal friendship. Marsha elaborates: “Three albums in we just became different people. We wanted to go and do our own thing. The ins-and-outs weren’t public knowledge because we weren’t in this thing for notoriety, we were in it for the music and the music no longer worked. It wasn’t honest.”

Jump to present day and Marsha is gushing over an “excursion to Hawaii” with Dr. Dre and some writers and producers to work on yet another solo gig. Although details about the project are still under wraps, Marsha’s open and friendly nature tell us that this collaborative project was 100% honest and about the music.

It is Marsha’s open-minded nature that has allowed her to connect with her fans around the world, some of whom helped inspire her breakout solo hit “I Hope She Cheats On You With A Basketball Player.” Apparently, Marsha began playing the opening bars on her UStream channel and her followers encouraged her to record the burgeoning song. Marsha clearly collects a lot of inspiration from her fans and always commends them for their immense influence on her art: “We didn’t have direct dialogue with fan and artists [before]…but now you can exchange thoughts and perspectives directly and talk to each other. For me it’s helped me to create a lot more openly, I’m able to tell other people’s stories with intent now, not just intention.”

As fans prepare for the release of Marsha’s latest effort, they can be reassured that she has taken great care to speak to the desires and pains revealed via her social media connections. Calling it the “sequel” to Late Nights and Early Mornings, Marsha describes her sophomore album as more “confident” and believes that it “…speaks to the relationship that [she’s] built with [her] fans via social media and all the love that was given during the making and release of her first album.”

One thing is for sure, Marsha and her music tend to hold a sense of comfort and closeness and she has, thus far, been able to sidestep the gap that often occurs between “celebrity” and fan when mainstream success occurs. Specifically, it’s Marsha’ welcoming disposition that has been the force behind much of her success; it will be interesting to see if she can maintain that organic sentiment with Friends and Lovers.