Janelle Monáe (born December 1, 1985 in Kansas City, Kansas as Janelle Monáe Robinson) is an American singer, songwriter, dancer, producer and performer. She is currently signed to her own label Wondaland Arts Society and Diddy's Bad Boy/Atlantic Records.
Monáe moved from Kansas City, Kansas to New York to study theatre at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Her original plan was to pursue a career on Broadway, but she soon changed her mind and returned to music. After moving to Atlanta, Georgia in 2003. where she met OutKast's Big Boi, Monáe founded the Wondaland Arts Society with like-minded young artists and made a couple of appearances on Idlewild, where she is featured on the songs "Call the Law" and "In Your Dreams".
By 2007, Monáe was ready to release her first solo work, titled Metropolis. It was originally conceived as a concept album in four parts, or suites, which were to be released through her website and mp3 download sites. After the release of the first part of the series, Metropolis Suite I of IV: The Chase in mid-2007, these plans were altered following her signing with Sean "Diddy" Combs' label, Bad Boy Records, later in the year. The label gave an official and physical release to the first suite in August 2008, which was retitled Metropolis: The Chase Suite (Special Edition) and included two new tracks. The EP was generally well-received by critics, gaining Monáe a 2009 Grammy nomination in the Best Urban/Alternative Performance for her single "Many Moons", festival appearances, and opening slots for the indie pop band of Montreal. Monáe also toured as the opening act for band No Doubt on their summer 2009 tour.
In a November 2009 interview, Monáe revealed the title and concept behind her album The ArchAndroid. The second and third suites of Metropolis are combined into this full-length release, in which Monáe's alter-ego, Cindi Mayweather - also the protagonist of Metropolis: The Chase Suite - becomes a messiah-like figure to the android community of Metropolis.
The Metropolis concept series draws inspiration from a wide range of musical, cinematic and other sources, ranging from Alfred Hitchcock to Debussy to Philip K. Dick. However, the series puts Fritz Lang's 1927 silent film Metropolis, which Monáe referred to as "the godfather of science-fiction movies," in special regard. Aside from sharing a name, they also share visual styles (the cover for The ArchAndroid is inspired by the iconic poster for Metropolis), conceptual themes and political goals, using expressionistic future scenarios to examine and explode contemporary ideas of prejudice and class.
Both also include a performing female android, though to very different effect. Where Metropolis android Maria is the evil, havoc-sowing double of the messianic figure to the city's strictly segregated working class, Monáe's messianic android muse Cindi Mayweather represents an interpretation of androids as that segregated minority, which Monáe describes as "... the Other. And I feel like all of us, whether in the majority or the minority, felt like the Other at some point."
Monáe received the Vanguard Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers at the Rhythm & Soul Music Awards in 2010.
Monae covered Charlie Chaplin's Smile on Billboard.com in June 2010.
In an NPR interview in September 2010, Janelle Monae stated that she is a believer in, and a proponent of time travel.
Janelle performed "Tightrope" during the second elimination episode of the 11th Season of Dancing with the Stars on September 28, 2010.
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