ARTIST PROFILE

Janelle Monae

Name: Janelle Monae

Birthday: December 1, 1985

Fav Dish: Shrimp Vindaloo

Janelle Monáe Robinson (born December 1, 1985), known professionally as Janelle Monáe, is an American musical recording artist and actress, signed to Bad Boy Records, Wondaland Arts Society, and Atlantic Records. After making a mark with her first unofficial studio album, The Audition, she debuted publicly with a conceptual EP titled Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase), which peaked at number 115 on the Billboard 200 in the United States

In 2010, Monáe released her first full-length studio album, The ArchAndroid, a concept album sequel to her first EP; it was released by Bad Boy Records. This album received critical acclaim and garnered a Best Contemporary R&B Album nomination at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards. The song “Tightrope” was also nominated for Best Urban/Alternative Performance at the same ceremony. With this industry recognition, the album has also been more successful commercially, officially reaching the number 17 spot on the Billboard 200.

Monáe’s music has garnered her six Grammy Award nominations. In March 2012, “We Are Young” by Fun., on which Monáe appears as a guest vocalist, reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, her first appearance in the US Top 10. In August 2012, Monáe became a CoverGirl spokeswoman. On September 10, 2013, she released her second studio album, The Electric Lady, to critical acclaim. Boston City Council named October 16, 2013 “Janelle Monáe Day” in the city of Boston, Massachusetts, in recognition of her artistry and social leadership.

Monáe was born in Kansas City, Kansas, where she spent her early years. She is the daughter of a janitor mother and a truck driver father, Michael Robinson Summers. She has stated that the fictional character of Dorothy Gale from the film The Wizard of Oz has been one of her “musical influences”. She dreamed of being a singer and a performer from a very young age. She moved to New York City to study drama at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, attending a performing arts camp called Freedom Theatre, which is the oldest African-American theatre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[clarification needed][when?] After moving to Atlanta, Georgia in 2001, she met OutKast’s Big Boi, and then founded the Wondaland Arts Society with some like-minded young artists, releasing her first EP The Audition in 2003. Although it did not place highly on the Billboard charts – reportedly only 400 physical copies were pressed – it did showcase her impressive vocal abilities and unique Metropolis concept that would also figure in her future releases. The CD album itself is extremely rare in its original compact disc format, and as such is a valuable collector’s item.

Monáe later appeared on OutKast’s Idlewild release, where she is featured on the songs “Call the Law” and “In Your Dreams.” Big Boi told his friend Sean Combs about Monáe, whom at the time Combs had not yet heard. Combs soon visited Monáe’s MySpace page and according to a HitQuarters interview with Bad Boy Records’ A&R person Daniel ‘Skid’ Mitchell, Combs loved it straight away: ” loved her look, loved that you couldn’t see her body, loved the way she was dancing, and just loved the vibe. He felt like she has something that was different – something new and fresh.” Monáe signed to Bad Boy in 2006. The label’s chief role was in facilitating her exposure on a much broader scale rather than developing the artist and her music, because in the words of Mitchell, “She was already moving, she already had her records – she had a self-contained movement.” Combs and Big Boi wanted to take their time and build her profile organically and allow the music to grow rather than put out “A hot single which everyone jumps on, and then they fade because it’s just something of the moment.”

In February 2015, Monáe along with Epic Records and its CEO and chairman L.A. Reid announced that Monáe’s independent label Wondaland Arts Society has signed a “landmark joint venture partnership” to revamp the label, now known as Wondaland Records, and to promote the artists on the label. Jem Aswad of Billboard called Monáe a “mini-mogul” because of the deal and revealed that “the partnership will bow in May with a 5-song compilation EP called The Eephus, including tracks from rapper Jidenna, Roman, St. Beauty, Deep Cotton and Monáe herself.”With this move, Monáe has become one of the few black women who run their own independent record label in conjunction with a major record label.

In late March 2015, Monáe released the single “Yoga” off of The Eephus.

In mid-2015 Monáe attended various fashion events including London Fashion Week and the 2015 Met Gala.She began collaborating with Nile Rodgers for a new Chic album and Duran Duran for the album Paper Gods, their first album in over five years, and their single called Pressure Off.

It was announced in October 2015 that Monáe will make her big screen acting debut in the upcoming film Moonlight alongside Naomie Harris, Andre Holland, and Mahershala Ali set to be released in 2016. Monáe has also been cast in the upcoming film Hidden Figures, and will be starring alongside actresses Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer set to be released on January 13, 2017.

By March 15, 2016, First Lady Michelle Obama proclaimed that she had assembled a collaborative track featuring vocals from Monáe, Kelly Clarkson, Zendaya and Missy Elliott, alongside production credit from pop songwriter Diane Warren and Elliott, titled “This Is for My Girls”. The iTunes-exclusive record will be used to both coincide with Obama’s Texan SXSW speech and to promote the First Lady’s third-world educational initiative “Let Girls Learn”

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