Name: Janelle Monae
Title: Recording artist
To describe R&B singer-songwriter Janelle Monae as “outside of the box” is an understatement. For the beautifully creative starlet, there is no such thing as a box. She’s been building her career for almost a decade, having appeared on records with Big Boi of OutKast’s Purple Ribbon All Stars, as well as having worked with OutKast themselves. But it was her signing with Diddy’s Bad Boy Records and the release of her acclaimed album The Archandroid that set the stage for the singer’s major 2013 breakthrough. With the release of Electric Lady this year, the mainstream finally caught up to the brilliance of Ms. Monae.
Before her career took flight, Monae worked as a maid and held down other odd jobs while living in what she’s described as “the poorest county” in Kansas City, Mo. Monae’s look is part futuristic, part flashback. She’s become known for her “uniform”: a jacket with pants, typically black-and-white. She’s said that her look is a tribute to her working-class parents who always wore uniforms for their jobs.
She’s quoted as saying: “I feel myself becoming the fearless person I have dreamt of being. Have I arrived? No. But I’m constantly evolving and challenging myself to be unafraid to make mistakes.”
Monae landed a major deal with CoverGirl this year, becoming one of the faces of the iconic makeup brand and putting herself on an even higher plateau of visibility.