Ngozi Odita on Janelle Monae from Rob Fields on Vimeo.


If you were looking for the Black rock audience, they were in effect at the Janelle Monae Summerstage show last month.  Ngozi was one of the people I met there.  For the most part, she’s not really checking for artists in the mainstream.  And of the Black rock artists she does follow, you’ll hear the attributes that are important to her: Artists who play their own instruments, have a vocal range, and give a good show.  On this last point, it seems that her expectations are that most artists won’t give great performances.  To me, that says that Black rock artists have an opportunity to surprise audiences by giving them something that they assume they won’t get: a stirring performance.

She’s also a big supporter of Black alt culture in general.  She’s one of the partners in Brooklyn boutique Harriet’s Alter Ego and, in addition to the clothing and accessories sold there, it’s an alternative space for visual, spoken word and musical artists.  Definitely a place worth supporting, ’cause they do cool events like this.

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  • keesha

    she is totally right! Janelle surprises me all the time with her live show! I wish more artists would wow me like that girl. She seems extra-terrestial at times… how can someone so small possess so much energy and stamina??

  • Keesha,

    Thanks for commenting. Yeah, that’s it! If you’re an artist, you’ve gotta be thinking, “What’s the one area that I know I can compete in? Am I the best singer? The best guitar player?” Who knows, but the one thing you can do is to know where the bar is for performances (it’s very low) and always over-deliver. That’ll get people talking. And, if all the other elements are in place–the talent, the songwriting, the musicianship–then you’ve got a good shot at distinguishing yourself.

    It’s easier said than done, since only a few artists really know how to bring it. And those are the ones that we’ll keep talking about.