Since the publication of The Wizard of Oz in September of 1900, citizens
throughout the world have come to realize that fantasies can come from
the tiniest, nondescript places, and that the most wondrous journeys can
begin in your own backyard— especially if your home is located in
Greater Kansas City, Kansas. Like Dorothy, the aspiring producer,
songstress and actress Janelle Monáe Robinson is a native of Kansas. And
like Dorothy and other famous fairy tale heroines, Janelle has a big,
bright smile and grand ambitions that involve leaps of imagination and
different ways of seeing the world.
This imaginative sensibility started early at the age of nine when Janelle Monáe decided that the world should be a different color: “preferably purple.” Thinking back on it now, Monáe says, “I was different. Of course, I did the normal, little-diva-in-training things like running up phone bills by dialing 1-800-Be-A-Star and singing Anita Baker’s ‘Sweet Love’ for anyone that would listen…but I was also on some different stuff…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…”
In pursuit of this world, Janelle Monáe moved to New York from high school with her best friend NoNamee so that she could attend The American Musical and Dramatics Academy, a musical theatre conservatory program. In this program, she fell in love with the soaring melodies and harmonic possibilities of classical music, as well as labored endlessly onstage and off to perfect her vocal instrument.