Meet My New Lady Hero: Janelle Monae

Remember how I mentioned that I was going to see Janelle Monae last Thursday?

Well, Thursday rolled around and I was having one of those days. I should have been excited about the concert but instead I woke up feeling lethargic and uninspired. That morning, while bending down to grab something that had fallen, I somehow managed to bash my tailbone on the edge of my desk (an injury that hurts. like. a. bitch) When my friend came to pick me up for the concert, I had a big purple bruise right above my butt crack, my mouth felt really weird inside because I’d eaten too many salt and vinegar rice cakes the night before, and my house keys were nowhere to be found. When my friend confessed that she had lost her wallet earlier that day, I realized between the two of us we were about one personal disaster away from sounding like the opening chorus of an Alanis Morisette song.

With that said, there is something really inspiring and life affirming about seeing good live music. Especially when you get to see this lady totally rock out and put on a killer show in your hometown:

Janelle Monae Victoria BC

Janelle Monae

As a total soul and R&B junkie, I’ve been really fortunate to see most of my favorite acts live at least once (Maxwell, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Alicia Keys, Common, PRINCE – to name a few) and I’d say that 99.9% of the time they are even better in concert. Janelle Monae was no exception. As soon as she got onstage, I immediately forgot my trivial problems and was swept away, as she sang her out out, danced and moon-walked across the stage like she was channeling the souls of Michael Jackson and James Brown, and took possession of the audience with kind of intensity and finesse that you’d expect from a performer twice her age. She did all this while wearing her signature tuxedo and gravity defying pompadour. Simply put, she was incredible.

Her opening act, Roman GianArthur  – a soul singer and guitarist- also totally rocked out. He reminded me a bit of a younger, more Gospel tinged, Prince. It only took about half a song before we totally forgot about his questionable necktie and deep v-neck combo.

Roman GianArthur. We're not sure what's up with the neck-tie but your music is sexy.

Walking out of the concert (after a standing ovation & several encores), my friend and I were speechless. We did however, manage to articulate this:

“Wow, I feel so much better!”

Janelle Monae healed our case of the bummers!

Later, as we were walking towards my friend’s car she said:

“You know what I like about her?”

“She’s different!”

“Yes, and she’s really sexy but…”

“She keeps her clothes on!”

“Yes!!!”

It’s true, Monae was recently quoted in an interview that she wears her signature tuxedo not just for stylistic reasons, but because she feels the need to set a good example for young women and this means forgoing the typical revealing costumes that are often worn by female performers. In a world where it seems like a lot of mainstream women performers are wearing less and saying even less, it’s refreshing that there are artists out there who are looking to change the game and actually sing about interesting things, for example, inter-human-android love affairs and time travel like Monae does.

To quote my other hero, Liz Lemon: "Janelle Monae, you are my heroine. And by heroine, I mean "lady hero." I don't wanna inject you and listen to jazz."

This experience made me realize two things:

1) Janelle Monae is kinda my new hero.

2) When you’re feeling uninspired, one of the best things you can do is just get out. Meet a friend. Interact with the world. If you’re lucky, go experience some kind of art – whether it’s music, painting or something entirely different – it has the potential to heal what ails ya.

3) Two of the most rocking shows I’ve seen recently – Prince and now this show – have occurred in my “sleepy” hometown…which leads me to believe that maybe this town isn’t so sleepy after all.

Who are some of your favorite female performers? How do you re-energize yourself when you’re feeling uninspired?

  • Patricia

    you are such a brilliant writer. 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Patricia! xo

  • Kate

    You summed it up perfectly my dear! LOVE!

    • Anonymous

      Yay! I’m so glad you think so. SUCH A GOOD CONCERT.

  • I love her tux, but I love her hair more!

    • Anonymous

      I know – it’s pretty amazing! She’s just all around gorgeous.

  • question to people

    I LOVE HER MUSIC!!

  • She is all-around gorgeous. I haven’t had a chance to listen to her music much, but I have felt drawn to her. Guess I’ll listen to some today!

    I couldn’t agree more that sometimes when you’re feeling down and uninspired the best thing is to GET OUT. I’m glad you reinforced that message 🙂 

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Lauren!

      Definitely give Janelle Monae a listen! I like her music because it’s positive, beautiful and doesn’t really conform to one genre. I like to put on her albums when I’m not really sure what I’m in the mood for because she does a little bit of everything…and her voice is beautiful!

  • B.

    Janelle is amazing! Love her music, love her style, love her lyrics. She’s what music needs right now. Great post! 

    • Anonymous

      Thanks! I love her too & I agree – she’s a welcome breath of fresh air!

  • Rand Ortega

    Saw her last year in Del Mar, CA. Transformational.  She’s my muse & the future– the Queen of Sci Fi Soul. She’s proof you don’t need standard sexual trappings to be a brilliant female singer/artist (*cough*– Rhianna–*cough*–Katy Perry). A fascinating, honest point of view & a beautiful voice are more than sufficient. Thanks for the lovely article!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the great comment Rand!

      I love that she doesn’t conform to the typical over sexualized standards that many contemporary female performers feel the need to conform to. She’s doing things her own way & becoming successful in the process. I love it!

  • Rana Irby

    You basically took the words right out of my mouth with this post. Janelle is my favorite female performer hands down. There’s some artists that I love a lot but Janelle tops my list of favorites. Also, know that you aren’t alone with a Janelle show curing the case of the blahs. A similar experience happened to me the first time I saw her

  • I too am utterly creatively smitten by Janelle Monae!  Well… in that inspiring empowered-chick kinda way, ‘cuz I don’t play for the pink team if you know what I’m sayin’.  : )   She shows us what is possible if we stay connected to the endless creative flow—the wellspring that’s endless but unique to each of us—and resist dimming our light by engaging in self-doubt.  I’m obviously already in the choir, but thanks for writing about her and turning more people on to her brilliance.  Yay!

    Viva La Outer Space Funk!

    • Anonymous

      YES! YES! YES!

      I love her for the same reasons. She’s totally an inspiring and empowered woman. 🙂

      Viva La Outer Space Funk Indeed!

      Thanks for stopping by the blog & commenting 🙂

  • Liz Gosselin

    Very nice article. I saw her live show for the first time a week ago, during the Vancouver Jazz Festival. I’d been listening to her music for a little over a year. The first time I listened to the entire ArchAndroid album, I thought, hmmm… A little weird. I loved Tightrope, but the rest was all over the place. Left it at that, and a month ago, when I realized she was coming to Vancouver I bought a ticket and listened to that album again. I’m now in love with it. Her show was amazing. What a band! What also struck me that evening was the range of people there. Young and old (I’m on the north side of 50, and there wer a few folks there much older than me 😉 ), all ethnicities, we rocked out. It was an evening of beauty. 

    • Anonymous

      That pretty much describes my experience as well. Our show in Victoria was really diverse – all different ages & backgrounds – but everyone was having a great time rocking out! When I first listened to the ArchAndroid album I only liked a few songs, but the more I listened to it, gradually each song won me over. I love that album even more now that I have seen her live. Thanks for the great comment!

  • I’ve been needing a good live concert fix.  All of my faves have been on break forever and now they’re all releasing new stuff at the same time!  lol  So next summer should be rockin’.  I have not heard of this Janelle Monae but I’ll have to check her out now.  My favorite female performers would have to be Florence & the Machine and Gwen Stefani/No Doubt.  I have not seen Florence live but have seen Gwen rock her heart out w/ No Doubt.  Love them!!