Pop Culture

Janelle Monae electrifies plaza with retro-funk tunes

Janelle Monae may not yet be a household name — but the Grammy-nominated Kansas City, Kan., native is working hard to make sure that changes soon. With her energetic, retro-flavored funky sound, she turned up the volume on the TODAY plaza Thursday morning, rocking out her tune "Dance Apocalyptic" while getting up close and personal with the crowd. 

Despite her callback to girl groups of the 1960s with her music, Monae says she believes in looking forward when it comes to being a role model for women. "I wanted to focus on creating a new breed, a new 21st century woman someone who is not defined by her skin color or hair texture but by what she does for the community, how she goes into the community and nurtures the next generation," she told TODAY's Savannah Guthrie.

Monae’s second album, "The Electric Lady," was released on Sept. 10, but she says she’s had to work hard to get this far. In the past she’s held jobs including being a maid and Office Depot worker, all while trying to sell her independent records out of an Atlanta boarding house where she lived with “six other girls.”

"So I feel very blessed and very honored to be here,” Monae said.