Born & Raised:
Birth name: Janelle Monae Robinson. Born: Dec. 1, 1985 in Kansas City, Kansas. Raised in Kansas.
Janelle grew up in Kansas, home of the fictional character Dorothy from film The Wizard of Oz. And the story of Dorothy played a big part in formulating Janelle's world view. As a youngster, she says she 'created her own little world' and began to dream about music and performing. After graduating from high school, she moved to New York with her best friend to attend the American Musical and Dramatics Academy, a musical theatre conservatory program. Eventually Janelle moved to Atlanta, a location she says she chose partly because of it being the hometown of the highly creative hip-hop duo OutKast.
Before the Success:
After being in Atlanta for about eight months, she hooked up with two producers and began working on her debut album, Metropolis. Metropolis was a concept album about a female android called Cindi Mayweather in the year 2719. In 2005, Janelle met and performed for Big Boi of OutKast and he signed her to his Purple Ribbon label. Janelle eventually appeared on a handful songs for the label, some of which used on the soundtrack to the 2006 Outkast film Idlewild. In 2007, her Metropolis EP was released. But eventually, Janelle left Purple Ribbon and signed with P. Diddy and his Bad Boy label.
In August 2008, Bad Boy re-released Metropolis, which was retitled Metropolis: The Chase Suite (Special Edition) and included two new tracks. The EP created a buzz, and Janelle received a 2009 Grammy nomination in the Best Urban/Alternative Performance for the single "Many Moons." Although she didn't win, the nomination helped to raise her profile within the music industry, and throughout 2009 and 2010, she continued to tour and record music. Her first official full-length album, The ArchAndroid, was released in May 2010 via Bad Boy Records and her own indie label, The Wondaland Arts Society.
"There was a lot of confusion and nonsense where I grew up, so I reacted by creating my own little world ... I began to see how music could change lives, and I began to dream about a world where every day was like anime and Broadway, where music fell from the sky and anything could happen." -- Janelle Monae, in her Atlantic Records bio, 2008.
2010: The ArchAndroid
2008: Metropolis: The Chase Suite (Special Edition)
2007: Metropolis: The Chase