Janelle Monae Biography
In 2010, Monáe released her first full-length studio album, The ArchAndroid, a concept album sequel to her first EP; it was released by Bad Boy Records. This album received critical acclaim and garnered a Best Contemporary R&B Album nomination at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards. The song "Tightrope" was also nominated for Best Urban/Alternative Performance at the same ceremony. With this industry recognition, the album has also been more successful commercially, officially reaching the number 17 spot on the Billboard 200.
Monáe's music has garnered her six Grammy Award nominations. In March 2012, "We Are Young" by Fun., on which Monáe appears as a guest vocalist, reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, her first appearance in the US Top 10. In August 2012, Monáe became a CoverGirl spokeswoman. On September 10, 2013, she released her second studio album, The Electric Lady, to critical acclaim. Boston City Council named October 16, 2013 "Janelle Monáe Day" in the city of Boston, Massachusetts, in recognition of her artistry and social leadership.
Monáe was born in Kansas City, Kansas, where she spent her early years. She is the daughter of a janitor mother and a truck driver father, Michael Robinson Summers. She has stated that the fictional character of Dorothy Gale from the film The Wizard of Oz has been one of her "musical influences". She dreamed of being a singer and a performer from a very young age. She moved to New York City to study drama at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, attending a performing arts camp called Freedom Theatre, which is the oldest African-American theatre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After moving to Atlanta, Georgia in 2001, she met OutKast's Big Boi, and then founded the Wondaland Arts Society with some like-minded young artists, releasing her first EP The Audition in 2003. Although it did not place highly on the Billboard charts – reportedly only 400 physical copies were pressed – it did showcase her impressive vocal abilities and unique Metropolis concept that would also figure in her future releases. The CD album itself is extremely rare in its original compact disc format, and as such is a valuable collector's item.
Monáe later appeared on OutKast's Idlewild release, where she is featured on the songs "Call the Law" and "In Your Dreams." Big Boi told his friend Sean Combs about Monáe, whom at the time Combs had not yet heard. Combs soon visited Monáe's MySpace page and according to a HitQuarters interview with Bad Boy Records' A&R person Daniel 'Skid' Mitchell, Combs loved it straight away: "[He] loved her look, loved that you couldn't see her body, loved the way she was dancing, and just loved the vibe. He felt like she has something that was different – something new and fresh."Monáe signed to Bad Boy in 2006. The label's chief role was in facilitating her exposure on a much broader scale rather than developing the artist and her music, because in the words of Mitchell, "She was already moving, she already had her records – she had a self-contained movement." Combs and Big Boi wanted to take their time and build her profile organically and allow the music to grow rather than put out "A hot single which everyone jumps on, and then they fade because it's just something of the moment."