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Early Life

Janelle Monáe Robinson was born on December 1, 1985 in Kansas City, Kansas. From a very early age Monáe was artistic, expressive, and talented. She was in the choir at her local church and performed in theatre productions like Cinderella and The Wiz. Besides performing on stage, Monáe was also involved with writing. She was part of the Kansas City’s Coterie Theater Young Playwrights’ Round Table where she would write full length plays and musicals at the age of 12. After graduating high school, Monáe got a scholarship to study musical theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC. Unfortunately though, Monáe did not feel as though school helped her grow creatively so she eventually ended up dropping out. After dropping out, Monáe moved to Atlanta, GA in 2011. This is where her career began to take off.


Beginnings of Career

While in Atlanta, when Monáe was just 20 years old, she performed “Killing Me Softly With His Song” at an open mic night. It was just by chance that Big Boi, one of the two members of Outkast, was in the audience and was extremely impressed with her performance. From there, Big Boi featured Monáe in two songs on Got Purp? Vol. II, an album by a hip-hop group called Purple Ribbon All-Stars. Then Big Boi helped Monáe’s career again by featuring her in two songs on Outkast’s album Idlewild. After her work on Idlewild, Monáe founded Wondaland Arts Society, an independent music label, with a few other artists. With Wondaland, she released her first solo work, called Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase), in 2007. The idea behind Metropolis is that it would be a concept album with four suites (or parts). This EP, which featured the first suite, caught the attention of famous producer Sean “Puffy” Combs, otherwise known as P. Diddy. Diddy immediately signed Monáe to his Bad Boy Records label. Together, the two artists promoted and released the new EP which was retitled Metropolis: The Chase Suite (Special Edition) and featured two more new songs. The revamped EP reached number 115 on the Billboard US Album Chart and also gave Monáe’s first Grammy nomination for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for the song “Many Moons”. It was only up from here for the talented young woman.


The ArchAndroid

The second and third suites of Monáe’s Metropolis concept were combined into one album entitled The ArchAndroid. This piece of work was Monáe’s debut full-length album and peaked at number 17 on the Billboard US Album Chart in 2010. It also received two Grammy nominations in 2011; one for Best Contemporary R&B Performance for the song “Tightrope” and one for Best Cotemporary R&B Album. The same year Monáe received these two Grammy nominations, she also won an Essence Award for Black Women in Music.


The Electric Ladyand More

Later that year, Monáe was featured on the hit single “We Are Young” by the band Fun. This single peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has been certified five-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. It was Monáe and Fun’s first charting single as well as their first number one single. After the wild success of “We Are Young”, Monáe began to promote her second full-length album, The Electric Lady. It was released in September of 2013 and received very positive feedback from listeners, peaking at number 5 on the Billboard US Album Chart. Monáe continued with her Metropolis concept, featuring the fourth and fifth suites on this album. This successful album featured a number of talented artists including Prince, Erykah Badu, Solange Knowles, Miguel, and Esperanza Spalding.


After the widespread success and notoriety of The Electric Lady, Monáe was casted to be the voice of Dr. Monáe in the animated movie Rio 2 in 2014. Monáe’s song, “What Is Love” was featured on the children’s movie soundtrack. Also in 2014, Monáe received the Harvard College Women’s Center Award for Achievement in Arts and Media for her efforts and works as a female artist and advocate for women’s rights. Janelle Monáe was making an impact not just musically, but socially as well.


The Eephus and Film

In early 2015, Monáe had a vision to revamp her independent music label, Wondaland Arts Society. She and her label, now renamed “Wondaland Records” signed a joint venture partnership with Epic Records. The partnership produced a 6-song compilation EP called The Eephus in an effort to promote Monáe’s artists. Features on the EP included Jidenna, Roman GianArthur, St. Beauty, Deep Cotton, and Monáe herself. The sixth song on the album is a remix to Jidenna’s “Classic Man” featuring superstar rapper Kendrick Lamar.With this move, Billboard called Monáe “a mini-mogul” because she is one of the only black women to run her own independent record label in partnership with a major record label.


In 2016 Monáe made her debut on the big screen in the film Moonlightalongside Naomie Harris, André Holland, and Mahershala Ali. Her acting career continued with the film Hidden Figures which was released two months late. Monáe co-starred with Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer and also was featured on a few songs for the film’s soundtrack.


Dirty Computer

Monáe’s third full-length studio album dropped on April 27, 2018 and is entitled Dirty Computer. It was preceded by two singles of which included “Make Me Feel” and “Django Jane” and both singles were accompanied by music videos. This year Monáe will also go on tour. Her Dirty Computer North American tour will kick off in Seattle, WA on June 11 and will culminate in Brooklyn, NY at the AFROPUNK Festival. Make sure to get your Janelle Monáe tickets to see the talented artist live in concert!



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