Jul 4, 2010

Janelle Monae: electrifying herself

"Janelle Monae is small — she stands 5’ 5”, maybe 5’7” if you include her trademark pouf — but everything about her is big. Her dress sense is Paisley Park by way of The Cotton Club: spats, drainpipe trousers, ruffed white shirt, her hair piled high above her forehead, so that when she makes an ‘o’ shape with her mouth, she seems almost to form a single giant exclamation point. She’s a cartoon version of herself — a Tex Avery version of a soul-funk diva. Performing live, she spins and gyrates across the stage like a rag doll channelling the greats: one minute shadow-boxing like Muhammad Ali, at another doing the old James Brown So-Electrifying-I-Gave-Myself-A-Shock routine. At one point, she even contrives a sort of one-legged moonwalk, wiggling her way across the stage, like Michael Jackson with a dash of Steve Martin. Finally, there is the piece de la resistance: a stage dive into the audience, flipping like a fish on a griddle, being returning her safely to the stage. Monae is currently opening for Erykah Badu on her current North America tour, although if what I saw at New York’s Roseland ballroom the other week was any guide, her act is an opener in length only. Monae is an opening act the same way Joan Crawford was a supporting actress." — from my interview with Janelle Monae in The Sunday Times


  1. Have tried to find your piece on Janelle re Sunday Times...is it subscription only?

  2. Outstanding piece on Monae in Sunday Times...looks like she is even more loved by the Brits!