13 Albums We Can't Wait to Hear

Whoever says there's no new good music is in for a pleasant surprise in 2013 as some of our favorite artists return with amazing new material. Just in time for the warmer weather, Beyonce, India Arie and Janelle Monae are just a few of the artists returning with sizzling new soul and R&B to keep us happy through the heat. Here's a look at 13 albums we're excited to blast in our speakers.

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If the controversy surrounding King Bey’s “Bow Down” is only a tease of what’s ahead, then we’re dutifully clearing the way for a Beyoncé-run summer. While she’s been mum on album details, we’re positive the Beyhive will get previews of what’s in store on the Mrs. Carter World Tour.

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Four years can seem like an eternity when waiting for new music, but India.Arie’s new album Songversation is worth the wait. She’s happy and loved and every song, including the lead single “Cocoa Butter,” is a testament to her new peace. We’re already calling her slick, party starter “Just Do You” our summer anthem.

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The ESSENCE Fest performer returns with Summers, his fifth studio album and the follow-up to his Grammy-winning Blacksummers Night. Earlier this year, Maxwell teased fans earlier this year by tweeting a track list of the album with titles like Hostage and "Beware of Smiles." Summers is the third of a three-album trilogy. There's currently no word on a final track list or album release date, but we're keeping our fingers crossed it will be this summer.

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Fantasia lays her burdens down on her forthcoming studio album Side Effects of You.

"I'm a soul singer. I don't know where else to reveal it so, I put my all into this album," the songstress tells Singers Room.

The LP which boasts 13 songs was produced by U.K. songwriter, Harmony. Set to feature Kelly Rowland, Tank and Missy Elliott the highly anticipated album will hit stores April 23.

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Between the baby news, chart topping single ("Love & War") and a new record deal, Tamar Braxton already owns 2013. Though we don't have too many details on the projected summer 2013 release, Braxton has gone on record to describe the album. "It's opinionated, it's funky, it's fresh. This is the true definition of Tamar," she said last year.

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Silky-voiced songstress, Mariah Carey, will put her "heart and soul" in her upcoming 14th studio album.

"Wherever we go with this project, I've tried to keep the soul and heart in it, with me obviously as the through-line,” she told Billboard.

Heavy hitter producers, The Dream and Rodney Jerkins, will work alongside Carey in creating the LP. A release date has yet to be revealed for the long awaited album, but Carey promises that it will feature lots of raw ballads. 

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When D’Angelo resurfaced last summer at our Essene Festival, we were so happy to see him, we didn’t need new music. Now after a year of playing many stages, including going out with Mary J. Blige on The Liberation Tour, we trust D’s ready for what’s next. Plus with thinly veiled affirmations from longtime collaborator Questlove and manager Kevin Liles, both testify D’s new music is “90 percent done.” We’re 100 percent ready.

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After years of hook-stealing guest appearances, Marsha Ambrosius has been letting us know she can hold a record on her own. This summer, Friends & Lovers (out early summer), the follow up to her 2011 debut, arrives with the moody single “Cold War.”

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After her uber-successful debut The ArchAndroid in 2010, the singer says her sophomore album, Electric Lady (TBD), will be more personal. "It will be more about self-actualization" she tells ESSENCE. She recently performed two new songs "Electric Lady" and "Dorothy Dandridge Eyes" at the Toronto Jazz Festival.

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On Better (out April 30), Chrisette Michele, now fully grown and lived, has a record that proves it. The unassuming young woman who won over neosoul fans with her sweet, lush voice is long gone. Today she’s edgier (love the hair), sexier (love the look) and bolder (love her songs of empowerment “Better” and “Charades”).

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Raheem DeVaughn

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One Woman Army (June 4) will be Ciara's fifth studio album, and judging from her latest sexy synth-heavy single "Body Party," Ci-Ci is back to the "One-two-stepping" sound we so loved her for. She reunites with long time collaborators like The Dream, Tricky Stewart, and Jermaine Dupri and features Nicki Minaj and Future.

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Our love affair with Roc Nation artist Bridget Kelly has been a slow build; in December she released a video for her goodbye jam “Special Delivery” and then followed up with a remix of “In the Morning” (f. Meek Mill)—her regretful ode to dialing, well, tipsy. But now’s the time for more. Her debut album is slated for a summer 2013 release.