So much popular art that touches on the lives of queer black women is filled with hardship, even when the endings are happy. She remembers being quite young when she realized she was queer, and although the vocabulary wasn’t there, the feelings were.
janelle monae pier 17 stubhub – Janelle Monáe Feels “Blessed” To Be The Queer Black Woman Role Model She Didn’t Have
Organization, strategy, and a tight group of trusted collaborators keep Janelle Monáe’s artistic world spinning. MONÁE: My upbringing, my community was all a huge inspiration for this album. And growing up in a small town and having big ideas and being what one would call a weirdo or just having a different approach to the way that I saw music, art and performance, I did at times feel out of place but I think that I wasn’t alone in that endeavor and I think that there were more people in Kansas City, Kansas, who could relate to what it is in that song.
Janelle was born in Kansas City, Kansas on December 1, 1985, as Janelle Monáe Robinson. Her parents are janitor mother, Janet, and a truck driver father, Michael Robinson Summers. She spent most of her early years in Kansas and always dreamt of being a singer and a performer.
Monáe, who has long since kept her sexuality under wraps, told The Guardian in February that she felt “sexually liberated” following the release of her Make Me Feel music video, which many were quick to dub a bisexual anthem.
From a very young age, Monáe distinguished herself as a highly artistic and intelligent child. She stood out as a singer at the local Baptist church and appeared in local productions of musicals such as The Wiz and Cinderella. In addition to singing and performing, Monáe was also a precocious young writer. She joined Kansas City’s Coterie Theater Young Playwrights’ Round Table and wrote several full-length plays and musicals. One script, completed when she was only 12 years old, told the story of a boy and girl who compete for the love of a plant—an idea inspired by Stevie Wonder ‘s 1979 album Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. “I was infatuated with photosynthesis,” she offered by way of explanation.
One of the things that I felt was happening was, I was writing music only when I felt great. It was like, you go into the studio, and I want to go in when my heart is clear, when I know what I want to say. I got to point where it was crippling me, this idea of perfectionism, and it stopped me from writing for a minute. And what I decided to do was take some time. So when I wrote this album, it wasn’t about perfection. It was about the imperfections. It was about embracing all those things that make you unique, even if it makes your own self uncomfortable.
Not only is the album star-studded and critically acclaimed, but it’s also the first time Monáe put herself out there as a completely stripped down human instead of as an android. And she came out as queer. “When I come home at night and take off my makeup and my performance uniform, I still am a young, black, queer woman from America who grew up with working class parents,” she proclaimed in an interview with Billboard “So it was just important to speak from that perspective and, in the process, let people know that it was important for Dirty Computers to feel like we have a community.” It doesn’t get any more personal than that.
I love Ralph Lauren,” said Monae in the interview. When I first started out, he was one of the first designers to dress me. I was wearing nothing but black and white tuxedos.” Now, the singer isn’t afraid of sporting unique takes on the tuxedo, like her Met Gala 2019 Christian Siriano gown that literally came alive, or her 2019 Jean Paul Gaultier Grammy’s dress that was basically a work of art.
The album is broken up into three parts. The first few songs represent the reckoning — reckoning with what it means to be called a n for the first time by a white person, or being called a b for the first time by a man. And then you have the middle section, where ” Pynk ” falls in, and songs like ” Make Me Feel ,” that are celebratory of sexuality and of womanness. The latter part of the album deals with the reclamation: A song like ” Americans ” is about reclaiming what it means to be an American. My ancestors helped build the White House, helped build this country. And it’s not time to run away, it’s time to stand your ground and confront what I call the great divide — those who seek to divide us and highlight all our differences and make us fearful of each other.
The mission of Wondaland Pictures is to highlight stories that historically haven’t been front and center. “There are a lot of other people that I respect and admire, like Issa Rae and Lena Waithe and Jordan Peele, who are also pushing forward underrepresented voices,” Monáe shared in an interview with NPR “I just hope, and Wondaland hopes, to continue to push culture forward and and redefine how we are viewed. I want to make movies the dirty computers can feel proud of.” You know this is going to be good.
Sean Combs, the producer also known as Puffy at the time, reached out to her after her work with Big Boi put her on his radar. Monáe had already taken a few meetings with record executives, and was disillusioned by those early encounters. They criticized her style, which then involved, sartorially, androgynous suits, and musically, operatic odes to her character Cindi Mayweather. During one performance, she noticed midsong, breathless and sweating from the effort of dancing and singing, an executive casually reading a magazine. I cried,” she said. I mean, I cried.” She made Puffy a deal: She had just finished Metropolis.” She’d hear him out if he came to see her perform. It was important to know if he was serious, that he was going to appreciate me and not try to change my live show or my music.” Combs halted filming on his reality show, Making the Band” and flew down. He loved what he saw. He said, let’s meet tomorrow and let’s talk,” Monáe recalled.
Pop star and actress Janelle Monae is returning to her hometown this weekend to headline the October 13 concert of the Open Spaces Festival. Monae, a graduate of Schlagle High School, talks about how being from Wyandotte County influences her music and her personal and professional aesthetic.
The interview between Janelle Monáe and Lizzo is probably the best thing you’ll read all morning. The two speak candidly and without judgment to each other, and the rest of the world could probably take notes. Monáe might be doing the work within herself, along with her grassroots group Fem the Future, but she’s not necessarily counting on the rest of the entertainment industry.
In addition, Monáe also created a grassroots nonprofit called Fem the Future , with the goal of creating employment opportunities for women who are in the arts. “I wanted to create a platform to shine light on women and their talent, whether it’s behind the scenes or in front of the camera,” she explained in an interview with Ebony magazine. She noted, “A beautiful future is a future where women are included in all different aspects.” That is truly a noble undertaking, and one that puts women first.
Monae’s latest album, Dirty Computer,” was released earlier this year. Her music, style, politics and revelations about her sexuality landed her on the covers of Rolling Stone and the New York Times Magazine. She’s also recently appeared in Hidden Figures” and Moonlight,” the 2016 film which won an Academy Award for Best Motion Picture.
Where black women in entertainment who excell beyond perceived expectation are likened to a type of otherworldly strength and endurance that at times defies the humanity in their artistry, Monáe is adamant about unveiling the humanity that has always existed in her art even during the periods where her alter-persona presided over her personal one.
For Monáe, who started seeing a therapist before the release of her debut album in 2010, therapy has long been a solution to her issues with channeling emotions and putting this method into practice. But she champions the internal work that comes with that.
Alongside its creative in-house team of executives including CEO Monáe, Managing Partner Mikael Moore, Creative Director Chuck Lightning and Executive Producer Nate Wonder, Wondaland and Universal Pictures will develop multi-genre content with an emphasis on championing underrepresented voices and groundbreaking perspectives.
With as close to the bone as this record cuts, in regards to our own world’s timeline and Monáe’s own journey, it’s easy to suspect that Dirty Computer is more about Janelle Monáe than her characters Jane 57821 or Cindi Mayweather, but that’s a take she’s quick to refute. The characters cast a long shadow, and it’s all connected, but the message is bigger than them and bigger than Monáe.
I just felt like now, more than ever, it was important, especially after doing Hidden Figures and Moonlight,” she says of the Oscar-nominated film where she played a part in telling virtually unknown history of three black women who were instrumental in getting the first American astronaut into space, and her role in the Oscar-winning drama about a young, poor, gay, black boy in Miami during the height of the crack epidemic— both bearing influence on her creative process for this album.
After moving to Atlanta , Georgia in 2001, she met OutKast ‘s Big Boi , who served as a mentor and sponsor for the early part of her career, 22 before founding the Wondaland Arts Society with some like-minded young artists. She released her first EP The Audition in 2003. Reportedly limited to only 400 physical copies, it showcased her vocal abilities and alluded to the film Metropolis , a concept that would also figure in her future releases.
Some may find an obvious point of comparison between Lemonade and Dirty Computer, but a more apt one would be to Beyoncé’s self-titled 2013 album It was her first visual narrative project and, like Dirty Computer, Beyoncé’s self-titled album was an announcement of a sexual awakening. It was a celebration that comes with being a woman who’s realized that the rules governing women’s bodies and behavior are a load of hogwash. Dirty Computer, with its visions of dancing labias and celebration of bisexual, polyamorous relationships, does the same.
Every generation deserves an artist like Janelle Monáe: an out-of-the box creative who challenges both the mainstream and the underground to keep up with her futuristic vision. The black and white is always a signature of hers, but we also incorporated her love for technology and performance art into the look with the addition of the blinking eye.
Monáe’s big break came in 2005, at the age of 20, when she performed Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song” at an open mic night. Big Boi, one half of the famous hip-hop duo OutKast, was in the audience and was thoroughly impressed with Monáe’s performance. He featured Monáe on two tracks, “Time Will Reveal” and “Lettin’ Go,” from the hip-hop group Purple Ribbon All-Stars’ album Got Purp? Vol. II, released later that year. A year later, in 2006, OutKast featured Monáe on two more songs, “Call the Law” and “In Your Dreams,” from its popular and acclaimed album Idlewild.
That declaration would be a tall order or hot air from almost anyone else, but the persistence of Monáe’s vision is inarguable. She has set her sights on the future and has seized the present with futurist music — science fiction music that does what great science fiction does: distilling human nature into its core components. Reflecting us as we are so we can become a better version of ourselves.
Hence the synth-heavy, dance-pop vibe of her third studio album, Dirty Computer, which drops today. A 44-minute narrative film that accompanies the album aired Thursday night on BET and MTV. It’s set during a totalitarian regime far enough into the future that everyone drives hover cars and people are simply known as computers.” When people are deemed dirty,” when they don’t fit society’s vision for what they should be, their minds are reprogrammed and erased of all the memories that have made them aberrant. The videos Monáe published in the run-up to the film release (Dirty Computer, Pynk, Make Me Feel, Django Jane and I Like That) are all memories this clean regime seeks to delete.
She was about to release Make Me Feel,” a slinky, Prince-esque sex jam with an accompanying visual that showed her torn between a female or male lover, part of a short film that imagined a dystopian world in which humans are wiped clean of memories and identities disfavored by society.
As the sounds faded, the guests turned their attention to the eight women marching into the bar. Each wore aviators, leather jackets over black bodysuits and brightly colored tights. They struck dramatic poses — an arm flung over an eye, a hand on a cocked hip, a leg held askew — and paused as the singer Janelle Monáe strolled into the room and took her place in the middle. She was dressed in a studded motorcycle jacket over a white crop top, black palazzo pants, suspenders, a derby wool hat and mirrored sunglasses. A navel-length ombré rattail snaked over her shoulder. For a moment, she stood perfectly still, letting the room drink her in.
After she spent years grinding away in the Atlanta underground, Monáe capitalized on support from OutKast ‘s Big Boi and developed into one of the most dynamic artists of her time, fusing soul, funk, hip-hop, and new wave – among other genres – with a spirited approach that seemed to treat entertainment and art as indivisible. She and her fellow Wondaland associates likewise stressed singles as much as albums. “Tightrope” and “Django Jane” provided bold jolts, while The ArchAndroid (2010), The Electric Lady (2013), and Dirty Computer (2018), all complex full-lengths, elaborated upon themes of oppression, identity, and liberation as they related to race and sexuality.
Dirty Computer itself was an honoring of the ‘other,’ full of anthems for the ostracized. The genesis of the project was birthed from her understanding of Monáe’s own self. Her “walking in truth” got her two Grammy nods, a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Music Artist, and was named one of the Albums of the Year by The New York Times, Complex, TIME, and Rolling Stone, among others.
This was a true collaborative process. We went back and forth on hundreds of texts, emails and phone calls, relaying Janelle’s desires and ideas to Christian Siriano, who would then in turn come back with his interpretation of her thoughts. Sketches, photos and videos were sent every step of the way, tweaking and adjusting as we went along. It was amazing to be a part of such a creative group of individuals, all working together to bring this incredible and iconic look to life.
The Weekend” is part of Open Spaces KC, a two month effort to attract visitors to Kansas City and host art events. Janelle Monae attends the Hollywood premiere of Black Panther in January 2018. Janelle Monáe will headline The Weekend” performance in Swope Park on Oct. 13, according to an announcement today by Kansas City Mayor Sly James.
Kept awake by anxiety over how fans would respond to her work, Monáe wondered if dropping something as intensely personal as an album and short film illuminating the personal liberation of a queer black woman in today’s America was the right decision.
Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer is an ambitious, politically outspoken, all-encompassing pop-R&B statement album at a time when the existence of such a thing is not a given. Out since April, it’s her tightest album, and it abounds with smooth grooves, classic-sounding rhythm guitar hooks, jokes, puns, and manifestos, all designed to reveal the horror of the current political situation and to establish cheerful solidarity among fans and new listeners. That she should overreach in pursuit of this noble goal is hardly a blunder.
Monáe has spent months taking Dirty Computer on tour, bringing to life the nearly hourlong video, or emotion picture,” that threads together the album’s songs and stars Monáe and her friend Tessa Thompson as radicals in an oppressive, futuristic society who are detained and cleaned.” The concerts reflect the thrillingly free world Monáe’s and Thompson’s characters inhabit before running afoul of the authorities.
The day that the debut single off her Grammy-nominated Dirty Computer album dropped, the accompanying “Make Me Feel” music video showed Monae seemingly laid bare: a mature woman, flirting with both sexes (including pal Tessa Thompson) and playing guitar in bejeweled chainmail befitting her late mentor, Prince. What happened next was even more revealing, when the famously private multihyphenate started speaking candidly about herself and her sexuality in the media for the first time.
When speaking to Variety’s Marc Malkin at the Fem The Future Brunch with Instagram in West Hollywood, Monae dedicated this occasion to trans people, who rarely get recognition from award shows. That was eight years ago, when she sang these lyrics in her music video for Cold War” — the second single off her debut album, The ArchAndroid.