Since she was young, Janelle Monae recognized the power that music holds over people. Following her dream to perform, Janelle moved to Atlanta and signed on with P. Diddy after producing her premier album, Metropolis in 2008. Two years later, she produced her full-length album The ArchAndroid, and most recently, The Electric Lady. On music, she said, “There was a lot of confusion and nonsense where I grew up, so I reacted by creating my own little world … I began to see how music could change lives, and I began to dream about a world where every day was like anime and Broadway, where music fell from the sky and anything could happen.”
The first time I ever heard of Janelle Monae was back in my freshman year, when fun. came to play at the Grand Opera House. Janelle was headlining the concert, but I was more excited for the indie band with a simultaneously sweet and powerful sound – I had been playing “We Are Young” on repeat for a few days before the night of the concert. Then the set was over, fun. cleared the stage, and a few minutes later, Janelle Monae appeared.
What a crazy performance! There were people in animal masks and robes walking in circles around stage, spiraling black and white vortexes on the screen behind the band, and Janelle herself creating a work of art during of a chaotic mid-song breakdown. Afterwards, I wasn’t sure what it was that I had heard and seen.
These days, what I hear and see from Janelle Monae, I absolutely adore.
She recently appeared on “Sesame Street”, singing a song for all the kids watching that you should never give up, and that if you haven’t succeeded at something, you just haven’t succeeded at it yet. “I am so excited to be living one of my dreams, to be here on ‘Sesame Street,”’ she said while promoting the episode in a behind-the-scenes clip. “I’m here because I am teaching everybody on Sesame Street the importance and the power of ‘yet’. Never, ever, ever give up because there’s so much power in ‘yet’.”
She also performed a song from her new album, “Dance Apocalyptic” on the “Today Show” – if you haven’t checked this song out before, here it is. She said: “I wanted to focus on creating a new breed…A new 21st Century woman – someone who is not defined by her skin color or hair texture but by what she does for the community, how she goes into the community and nurtures the next generation.” She then said, “I am the Electric Lady and I am your morning coffee!”
Janelle’s unique image isn’t really an image at all: it’s who she is, who she always has been, and she isn’t hiding it from anyone. At around five feet tall, she comes off as taller because of her vibrancy and fearlessness. She takes risks, looks amazing, sounds amazing, and inspires everyone to be better, to do better.