Janelle Monae was born in 1985 in Kansas City, Kansas. Her mother was a janitor, and her father was a garbage truck driver. She describes her family as a working class environment where you had to work hard to make something happen. She's definitely taken that work ethic to the next level.
"I've never forgotten where I come from," Monae said. "It's crazy, but I really want to be the one to show everyone back home that it can be done. And not by selling drugs but by being passionate about the right thing—and the right things will come your way." Her signature black and white outfits are a tribute to her parents. She feels that they each had to wear uniforms every day. Black and white is her uniform to always remind her where she came from.
She moved to New York City to study drama at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. And then moved to Atlanta to pursue her dream of making music. She hooked up with a few like-minded artists and created Wondaland Arts Society. She released her first EP in 2003 called "The Audition". She garnered the attention of Sean "Puffy" Combs, who signed her to Bad Boy Records and she released her first solo EP in 2007. He said, "I was looking for things that were different and innovative. Because if you're a leader in this industry you want to be helping to push it forward, and she's an artist that would help to push it forward." She's released 2 records since, The ArchAndroid in 2010 and The Electric Lady in 2013, both to great critical acclaim.
A Few Special Awards...
6 GRAMMY nominations
2010 She received the Vanguard Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers at the Rhythm & Soul Music Awards
2011 Essence Black Women in Music Award
2012 She became a Covergirl spokesperson.
2014 She was the recipient of the inaugural Harvard College Women's Center Award for Achievement in Arts and Media for her achievements as an artist, advocate and feminist
2015 Billboard Women in Music Rising Star Award
Maybe music isn't enough to keep her busy? 2016 was an incredible year, as she had starring roles in two major motion pictures, Moonlight, and Hidden Figures. Both films were nominated for Best Picture. Moonlight won.
Also in 2016 Janelle joined Kelly Clarkson, Chloe and Halle, Missy Elliott, Jadagrace, Lea Michele, Kelly Rowland and Zendaya to record the Diane Warren penned song "This Is For My Girls," a global call-to-action for womens empowerment.
She now runs her own record label Wondaland Arts Society joined forces with Epic Records to promote her artists and herself. That's right! She's a mogul.
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