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?

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