Monae is one of the most unique talents to arrive on the music scene in the past five years. Born Janelle Monae Robinson in Kansas City, Kan., the 25-year-old moved to New York as a teen to study theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.
COLUMBUS OHIO – Rising neo-soul star Janelle Monae will warm up the audience when Katy Perry’s world tour comes to the SchottensteinCenter in Columbus on Tuesday, Sept. 13.
Monae is one of the most unique talents to arrive on the music scene in the past five years. Born Janelle Monae Robinson in Kansas City, Kan., the 25-year-old moved to New York as a teen to study theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. She originally planned to pursue a career on Broadway, but ultimately decided to become a recording artist. After moving to Atlanta, she met Big Boi of Outkast. She appeared in Outkast’s musical “Idlewild” and is featured in the numbers “Call the Law” and “In Your Dreams.”
As Monae continued to develop her music, Big Boi referred her to Sean “Diddy” Combs. After visiting her MySpace page, Combs was taken with her originality and signed her to Bad Boy Records.
“(He) loved her look, loved that you couldn’t see her body, loved the way she was dancing, and just loved the vibe,” said Bad Boy A&R representative Daniel “Skid” Mitchell. “He felt like she has something that was different – something new and fresh.”
In 2008, Monae released her first solo work, a futuristic concept album called “Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase).” The album won Monae a 2009 Grammy nomination in the Best Urban/Alternative Performance category for her single “Many Moons.”
Monae continues to gain visibility. She performed her single “Tightrope” during last fall’s season of “Dancing with the Stars,” and the song was also featured in the 2011 season of “American Idol.” She also performed with Bruno Mars and B.o.B. on the Grammy Awards in February, receiving a standing ovation for her performance of her song “Cold War.”
Monae has been compared to avant garde artists such as Grace Jones, Annie Lennox and Lady Gaga. Her musical influences include James Brown, Parliament Funkadelic, Prince, Michael Jackson, OutKast, Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill.
Like many of these artists, Monae has become known just as much for her fashion sense as for her music. She has adopted a signature style of always wearing a variation of the tuxedo – white blouse, bow tie and slacks.
“I bathe in it, I swim in it, and I cold be buried in it,” she said. “A tux is such a standard uniform. It’s so classy and it’s a lifestyle I enjoy. The tux keeps me balanced. I look at myself as a canvas. I don’t want to cloud myself with too many colors or I’ll go crazy.”
Monae is currently working on a follow-up to 2008’s “Metropolis” and 2010’s “The ArchAndroid,” which won a Grammy earlier this year for Best R&B/Pop Album.
“This album will have very strong concepts and bigger ideas and the music will just go forward to another level,” Monae said of her new album. “It still will be, I believe, relatable to the people. We have really big ideas, I must say, and we’re just trying to make sure we execute them properly.”
For tickets and more information about Monae’s upcoming show with Katy Perry at the Schottenstein Center, visit any Ticketmaster outlet or Schottensteincenter.com.