Name: Janelle Monáe
Occupation: Actor, singer, songwriter and record producer
From her predominantly black and white wardrobe (which she says is in homage to her working-class background), to her unique brand of Afrofuturist and science fiction-infused R&B and pop, to her roles in Moonlight and Hidden Figures, Monáe has made a habit of making powerful political statements, and none timelier than her unequivocal Time’s Up speech at the 2018 Grammy Awards. During an evening which largely ignored female artists (women won just 11 of 84 awards), and notably shied away from discussing the #MeToo sexual misconduct movement, Monáe used her time on stage as a platform to address the discrimination and abuse faced by all women, not just in Hollywood. The activist offered a fittingly defiant and unifying address: “We come in peace, but we mean business.”
For her third concept album, Dirty Computer – following 2010’s The ArchAndroid and 2013’s Electric Lady – Monáe worked closely with Prince before his death in April 2016. In an interview with The Guardian, she said of his influence: “I wouldn’t be as comfortable with who I am if it had not been for Prince. I mean, my label Wondaland would not exist without Paisley Park coming before us… I dedicate a lot of my music to Prince, for everything he’s done for music and black people and women and men.”
“To those who would dare try and silence us, we offer you two words: Time's Up. We say Time’s Up for pay inequality, Time’s Up for discrimination, Time’s Up for harassment of any kind, and Time’s Up for the abuse of power. Because, you see, it’s not just going on in Hollywood; it’s not just going on in Washington; it’s right here in our industry as well. And just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo the culture that does not serve us well. So, let’s work together, women and men, as a united music industry committed to creating more safe work environments, equal pay, and access for all women.”
“Janelle is somebody who is interested in really empowering not just women, but people to be who they are in the full expression of who they are.” Tessa Thompson, Entertainment Tonight, 2018
Janelle Monáe’s new album Dirty Computer is out April 27
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