October 25th, 2011
11:10 AM ET

Soundcheck: Janelle Monae uniting through music

Singer Janelle Monae was a young playwright moving home to Kansas from New York City when she made a fateful decision.

"I decided that I had more to say as an artist," she tells CNN at the Renaissance Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. Monae performed there as part of their RLife Live series, which brings artists to the Renaissance.

As her fans know, Monae's desire to share has resulted in a music career that has landed her on lots of best new artist lists.

Monae recalled that she "started to fall in love with artists like Stevie Wonder and David Bowie," and dreamed of ways she could break the mold.

"I loved knowing that I didn't have to just be an actor, I didn't have to just sing," she said. "I could create this concept album that could possibly one day be a Broadway musical and I could be in control versus being someone's typecast character for a role that's been played for thousands of years."

The singer - who says her black and white attire is a tribute to her humble beginnings and her parents, who were janitors - envisions a day when we'll all be united, and hopes that her music will play a role.

"I think music is that common denominator," she said.

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Filed under: Celebrities • Music

soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Sour Maze

    You guys are pathetic..SO much hate and negativity. If she has no talent then I would love too see talent, show me someone! She is the one of the most Talented individuals I've ever seen in my life..Great Voice, Unique, Eclectic,Writes her own music, diverse..and The best stage performer in the world she can also dance her ass off!

    October 30, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. someone

    my goodness, how could u say janelle monae has no talent, saying she has no talent is like saying katy perry, lady gaga, and all these manufactured singers have talent. Janelle's music is real, and she's an excellent perfromer, just bacuse she isnt universally know or isnt in the top 40 doesnt mean she isnt good, and just because a singer like lady gaga is in the top 40 or whoever doesnt mean there talented

    October 30, 2011 at 5:28 am | Report abuse |
  3. Winston5

    I saw her open for of Montreal at the Palladium in LA, very impressive sound...HUGE beat. 😉

    October 28, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |

    LMAO, anytime a story is a bout a black person, the racists come out of the woodwork.

    October 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. "Y"

    I've seen her perform in person..Absoultely WONDERFUL!!!....She's a little bit of Prince & James Brown...

    Very Beautiful also!

    October 27, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  6. bobby

    I really don't get all the negative comments about Ms. Monae... she's a fabulous talent and I can't wait to see her perform live. I have both her albums – I've had them for awhile now – and they're both on a pretty standard rotation in all the music I listen to. She's different, yes, but puts out some fun tunes. All the disparaging comments on this thread must be from people who are really not familiar with her work, just maybe perhaps this one segment on CNN (which I was pleasantly surprised to come across!!) Grow up, haters... get nice.

    October 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Elizabeth

    Young lady, go for it. I like your upbeat heartbeat for 'community' being the inspiration of expression within your vocal music art form. That's 'difference-making' energetics in motion and a sound message worthy of beating a good drum to in everyone's life. Do you also perform a wider range that brings out the diversity of your singing talent? I only saw this little vidbit. Your interview statement that you write with a sense of community in mind, how you present yourself in interview, and your jazzed excitement with the band in sounding off that message – 'hooked' me in. Carpe diem, young one. Seize the moment. You've got all our attention – do your message well – move forward with wisdom.

    October 26, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      And another thing. I would love to seize Janells Coo~terPIE with my lips.

      October 26, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  8. Oh and also

    if shes so miserable WHY IS SHE EVEN ACCLAIMED IN THIS FEATURE? OR EVEN CONSIDERED TO BE ON IT lol gawddddd like honestly stop with the hatred and stupidity and closed mindedness lol..

    October 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Hmm

    Its sounds liek a lot of jealous black country folk and jealous people period on here. She has 2 albums out is doing a world tour is best new artist even in vibe magazine shes been on the cover of vouge, every artist give her her props. and she is one of the most lyrical talented singers out here. Or does she have to shake her a$$ and be naked and sing about men aint this or that or degrade herself like black women do to get non existent people to take a second and appriciate her talent? like really..its incredibly sad reading these comments because i bet none of you all could even sing a birthday song at childrens party lol. The ArchAndroid is one of the best albums ever BUT only people who are typically miserable or think with the left side of their brain are stupid wouldnt think so. to appriciate music or art period you have to be an artist or have some type of creative gene or have a open mind to consider different styles of art. thats music, painting, and so forth. I'm a die hard Janelle Monae fan. I actually appriciate artist who are in the industry for the art and she is def. one of them But wait until a couple of years everyone will hop on her bandwagon and claim they love her when they start to get shunned for being so freaking stupid and closeminded lol.
    P.S If your a fan of the ArchAndroid you should check out the movie Metropolis its a wonderful story..the low lives in the movie are alot like these people commenting so I thought that was interesting lol..noone knows how to think for themselves or appriciate good things anymore. well actually not true only the people who are stupid lol..

    October 25, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • tae

      You took the words right out of my mouth Monet is a great artist

      October 25, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • eliz

      Exactly ^_^ Also, if she was "so untalented", then why would she be invited to the White House to sing? You can't judge an artist by a few clips. Do some research, listen to her album, and then come back here. I bet you'll be saying otherwise.

      October 26, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cho Quan

    I wish my name was Juanton. It berry berry cool name. My mom name me CHO. Cho . . . . . 🙁

    October 25, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cho Quan

    Juanton es berry berry guud name. We have soup name after you! You want poo poo pratter? Crab rangoon? Shrimp ro mein? Shrimp ro mein berry berry guuuud.

    October 25, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Juanton

    Janelle is an amazing artist who has more talent in her tiny finger than all of you low-brow ass Soulja Boy Hank Jr jocking hacks. She makes real music you disgusting horrible flash in the pan scenesters cannot even begin to understand. SAY SOMETHIN!

    October 25, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |

    I am a professional musician. Not a troll. Im not jealous. In my opinion, Janelle is a no tallent lounge singer that sounds like an escapee from the loon factory. Its not the 1920s. She might have been popular back then. Her sound is dated. She sound like a monkey and she look like one too. Happy Birthday to you.

    October 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Not you

    Death is too kind a punishment for any fool who can't appreciate her talent.

    October 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ottumwo

    Me likes her singing. Sound like rhinocerous mating in my native Kenya. Reminds me of home.

    October 25, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Tyree Jones

    We havin a cookout this weekend. Malt liquor and ribs. You think she ll come sing at our party. We is in midtown so it wont be far for her to walk. We ll give her some ribs and cole slaw in trade for her singin. But she cant be doing none of that mess she normally does. She gonna have to do some hip hop if she wants to sing for her supper at our party.

    October 25, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  17. LaTonya

    If she be so good how come she be singing at the motel down the road? WORD !

    October 25, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  18. toonces

    Meth is goood. It gives us black girls powerful energy. That ways we can clean lots of hotel rooms.

    October 25, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Mr. Joekzlaott

    90% of the idiots who called her an "ugly, no-talent lounge singer" have probably never even heard ArchAndroid. How could they when it's the best pop album to come out in the past 10 years? That's like me never having heard a Beatles song and I say that they're complete crap because they hairstyles looks like the bottom part of a mop. Eff outta here with all of that biased nonsense and stop judging new artists based on a 2-minute clip of them singing in concert.

    October 25, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • LadyJ

      I totally agree! She is a beautiful, original, creative, and spunky new artist. I love her song "Tightrope' and so does corporate America. Sears made it their theme song for 2011, and I could not agree more. Congrats Miss Monae on staying true to who you are and having the heart to continue despite such negative criticisms!!

      November 4, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  20. 400MD

    I can fart the Natl Anthem and it sounds much better than Janelle and her caterwalling.

    October 25, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  21. ben

    I agree with you ethel merman. She is an incredible singer plus very pretty. She is a lovely person.

    October 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Colleen

    Have these commenters even listened to her music? She's incredible! What a high energy show – great singing, great concept, and what a GREAT dancer!!

    October 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  23. ?mylove

    Whats so sad is CNN claims to monitor comments!! How funny is that?!

    October 25, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  24. ethel merman

    Janelle Monae is the bee's knees. Such a big voice in a little package. I bet most of the posts on here are from people that haven't ever heard her sing.

    October 25, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  25. ernestly

    ernestly I wouldnt pay any attention to people who come on here and type negative comments. They seem th think they are being clever or funny. They are loooosers.

    October 25, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  26. elmo von boggins

    Oh yeah. Trolls are doooodoooo dooodooooheads.

    October 25, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  27. elmo von boggins

    Yeah. I bet they are doooooodooooooheads ! The are either jealous or are troll. I wouldnt worry about it. I think trolls just post mean things on here because they are doooooodooooooheads.

    October 25, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  28. SHE Music

    I shouldn't be sshocked at the negative responses this article received. No talent having, miserable, no count, meaningless, worthless, doing nothing for yourself or the people around you, looking for a handout folks, would try their best to ridicule someone that is trying to make a difference. Jealousy is soooo UGLY! SMH!

    October 25, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  29. denise

    She look like a white girl wannabe to me. Her hair all fixed like a white girl and all. She dont seem to have no respect or appreciation for our African American heritage. Black Poowwer !

    October 25, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  30. NayNay

    Janelle be going big time soon. Before we know it she will be performing at the Super 8 motel ! She gawna be B I G !

    October 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  31. jk

    also Mick Jagger loves her, and a lot of artists an people respect her...but I'm sure your ignorant asses don't know about this...

    October 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Laquecia

    Yeah she is popular. A singin at the motel. That a fancy gig there. Motel singin Monae. That kinda rhyme ! 🙂

    October 25, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Laquecia

    She nuthin but a two bit untallented lounge act. Cant sing her way outta a paper bag.

    October 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  34. jk

    yes because she is untalented.. she was nominated for 3 Grammies and performed last year, had the best pop album of the last ten years and more for the music critics......she is considered one of the best live performers in the world right now...and among her fans she has Prince and Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind and Fire just to name a few....just an untalented singer...shut up!!!!!!!

    October 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  35. LeMusikcritiq

    You all are probably a bunch of ugly, no talent losers. She CAN sing and the masses like her for a reason. You need to find YOUR reasons- for existing because no one beside YOU knows.

    October 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  36. D J Tremaine

    Why is it every tone deaf notallent sister on the face of the earth think she can sing? Just because her mom and grandma say she sing pretty doesnt mean she got tallent. This Monae girl be one of those hapless sad wannabees.

    October 25, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  37. D J Tremaine

    This lady needs to be in another line of work. Her voice hurts my stomach.

    October 25, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |

    She a no tallent foo.

    October 25, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Alex

    Why an article about an untallented lounge act?

    October 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  40. alecia

    I dont care for her foul sounding voice either.

    October 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Simon

    I hope she has another career she can fall back on. This is some miserably bad music.

    October 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  42. ELLA

    She is just a no tallent hotel lounge singer. Sounds like she just came outta the cabaret line on a cruise ship. No tallent. Pitchy singing. She definitly isnt in it to win it.

    October 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Evel Knievel


    October 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  44. ridk

    I have seen her perform. She is a fabulous talent.

    October 25, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Guy

      Like I should care because ? Some little girl that no body will rember in 5 yrs that looks like some one took a dump on her head. Keep pusing ACLU & NSCP. You Dip's !!

      October 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |

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