Thursday, September 29, 2016

Janelle Monáe at Rumsey Playfield

Janelle Monáe Robinson, known professionally as Janelle Monáe, was born in Kansas City, Kansas, where she spent her early years. She moved to New York City to study drama, then relocated in 2001 to Atlanta, Georgia. In 2003, she began developing a science fiction musical concept in which her alter ego, Cindi Mayweather, an android in the year 2719, is a fugitive after breaking the law in her home town of Metropolis by falling in love with a human named Anthony Greendown and becoming a messianic figure to the android community of Metropolis. Monáe's most recent album, 2013's The Electric Lady, continued the utopian cyborg saga.

Monáe returned to New York City at a time when the New York Film Festival was premiering her film debut in Moonlight. Headlining the final concert of the annual SummerStage series tonight, Monáe lit up Central Park with her brand of funk, soul, pop and showmanship. Monáe was delivered by hand truck to center stage, where she initially remained motionless in her schoolgirl uniform and bizarre science fiction-inspired sunglasses. As "Givin' Em What They Love" grooved behind her, Monáe became a simmering fireball of activity. By the first chorus, she established her soaring vocal range. Her vocals were highlighted by many searing guitar leads and crashing drums rocking out the songs. In addition to her originals, Monáe covered James Brown's "I Got You (I Feel Good)," the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back," and a super rocking version of Prince's "Let's Go Crazy." Since the passing of Prince, there may not be anyone electrifying urban sounds like Janelle Monáe.

Visit Janelle Monáe at www.janellemonae.com.