- GRAMMY Live
Born Janelle Robinson in Kansas City, Kan., Monáe began her career in musical theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. After performing in several off-Broadway shows she moved to Atlanta where she began touring the local college circuit and founded the artistic collective Wondaland Arts Society. She eventually caught the attention of OutKast's Big Boi, who placed two of her songs on his 2005 compilation Got Purp? Vol. 2, and then again on OutKast's 2006 soundtrack Idlewild. Monáe released her first EP, Metropolis, Suite I: The Chase, in 2007 and garnered a GRAMMY nomination for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for "Many Moons" at the 51st Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2008. That same year she signed with GRAMMY winner Sean "Diddy" Combs' Bad Boy Records, introducing her fusion of R&B, funk and rock and roll to an even wider audience.
Donning her signature pompadour and classic black-and-white tuxedo, Monáe released her debut album, The ArchAndroid, in May 2010. Featuring the singles "Tightrope" and "Cold War," The ArchAndroid peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard 200 and garnered Monáe her second GRAMMY nomination for Best Contemporary R&B Album. She earned an additional nomination that year for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for "Tightrope."
In 2011 Monáe lent her vocals to Fun.'s "We Are Young" featured on the band's Some Nights. A success for both artists, "We Are Young" brought Monáe her first No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 and multiple GRAMMY nominations, including Record Of The Year.