Janelle Monáe, singer, songwriter and producer.


Janelle Monáe, singer, songwriter and producer, walked into what she called “the best welcome I ever had,” as the North Carolina A&T State University’s Blue and Gold Marching Machine serenaded her with A&T favorites and a rendition of her hit single featuring Erykah Badu, Q.U.E.E.N.

Monáe pushes the envelope and her latest album, Electric Lady, as she toured North Carolina. On August 15 in between radio interviews and Cookout restaurant stops, the Q.U.E.E.N musician and CoverGirl spent time mentoring musicians of the Marching Machine.

After the performance which brought students, faculty and staff to the Academic Classroom Building, Monáe sat with band members for a special question and answer segment orchestrated by the university radio station –WNAA 90.1 FM.

The room filled up quickly with students in gold t-shirts and the event opened with a performance from students in the community group, The Poetry Project. It wasn’t long before Monáe dropped a few tears as the poets thanked her for simply being who she is. 

Like many of the students who will be returning to Aggieland soon, Monáe empathizes with what it’s like to go to or go back to school. If you’ve ever had an experience with being homesick, don’t worry; Monáe shared with the band that the “hardest part of my career is leaving my family.” 

Her experience creating the new album is comparable to how students may successfully approach a new academic year.  

“Every album journey is different,” she said. “I didn’t go into the Electric lady trying to recreate the Arch Android, or previous work or Metropolis or The Audition.”

While taking the journey in stride, Monáe confidently shared her desire to reach “unchartered territory but at the same time sticking to my core values and principles as a writer, as an artist and as a poet.”

Monáe is known for using her voice to inspire the Electric Lady, the underdog, the marginalized, the one who doesn’t quite fit in or the non-conformist in all of us. It is her desire to see more people harness their strength to unite, give back and uplift the communities they come from.  

Her message to North Carolina A&T State University students is simple.

“I love (the students) and this album is dedicated to them. I’m always thinking about this next generation and setting up a better future for them through music,” Monáe said.

“I think this is a special album and I hope that when they get it and it’s time for them to come back to school that they’re able to make it apart of their lives, make it apart of their play list, make it medicine they take when they feel down or want to jam or want to dance or want to be in love or want love,” she said.

Electric Lady will be available in stores September 10.