When celebrating Black History Month, people tend to look back, instead of forward. And we don’t blame them. After all, it’s in the title – “history,” meaning all things memorable about the past. Here at HelloBeautiful we’d like to take the time to celebrate the amazing Black women who are making history as we speak.
She hasn’t yet released a debut album, but Janelle Monae is already a Grammy-nominated singer. If her name sounds familiar, you may have first heard it during an episode of “I Want To Work For Diddy,” where competing contestants were asked to plan a showcase for the emerging artist – after all, she signed to his Bad Boy Records in 2007. However, that wasn’t her original plan.
She had originally planned to release her first solo album, entitled “Metropolis,” as a concept album, made up of four parts and only available through her website and digital downloads. These plans were altered upon her signing with Diddy. The label gave an official and material release to “Metropolis: The Chase Suite” in August 2008 which, with only 7 songs, garnered her enough acclaim and attention to receive a 2009 Grammy nomination in the Best Urban/Alternative Performance for her song “Many Moons,” as well as opening spots for No Doubt, Erykah Badu, and Raphael Saadiq.
Now, she’s rocking a pompadour, saddle shoes, and a suit and tie, all while singing about robot revolutions and takeovers. She could be Andre 3000’s female counterpart – just as funky, not at all gimmicky, and understatedly talented. And yes, maybe a little weird. But weird people are genius. And what did he have to say about her?
“Ms. Monáe has one of the most enchanting voices of our generation. She’s a living, singing babydoll. Darling … just darling.”
After a series of sci-fi-soul EPs, the funk futurist says her debut album, The ArchAndroid, which is due out May 18, is not merely another collection of songs but an “EMOTION PICTURE.” Her influences include James Brown, Elvis, Judy Garland, Fiona Apple, Björk and Rodgers and Hammerstein, and she skillfully blends those respective genres, while emitting a message of hope and empowerment. She’s also a tiny but explosive ball of energy – a truly entertaining performer that can put on a show of indie rock, R&B, new wave, and show tunes.
“I wouldn’t know rock was rock, or R&B was R&B, until someone said that’s what it is. I just merely create the music and lyrics that feel good, and that move me.”
Hear her channel Motown on her latest single, “Tightrope”