Her biological parents separating when she was a toddler, Janelle Monáe Robinson was raised by her mom Janet and a stepfather.
In an interview with Alley Pascoe published in Marie Claire, she revealed what it was like to grow up in a working-class community in Kansas City, Quindaro.
Janelle Monáe with her mom Janet at the 2020 Academy Awards
Janet, who worked as a janitor and a hotel maid, supported her daughter’s dream of becoming a singer. Janelle says her mom is a “free spirit with no inhibitions whatsoever.”
My mother, Janet, had me at a very young age and she made a lot of sacrifices in order for me to be the person I am today. She put me and my sister in front of her own needs, sacrificing both her own career decisions and her comfort. She endured a lot of suffering – including feeling the shame of being a young, single mother.
Janelle’s biological father, Michael Robinson Summers, was a garbage man. Her stepfather worked as a postal worker.
“I saw my parents living check to check, putting on their uniforms every day, working hard,” Monáe revealed in an interview with CNBC. “There were moments when my lights were cut off.”
Monáe helped pay for her own education expenses by working at Blockbuster, Foot Locker, and as a maid.
“I did see them make mistakes, and they were very open about how important education was,” she added. “They always encouraged us to just be better than them.”
Janelle Monae wore two Balmain pieces with Alexis Bittar rhodium necklaces and a hairpiece at the 2020 NAACP Image Awards at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California, on February 22, 2020
In February 2016, Janelle Monae joined Alessandra Ambrosio and Taylor Swift on the red carpet at the 2016 Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. She supported artists from her label Wondaland at the event.
Janelle Monae wears her hair in braids at the 2016 Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center on February 15, 2016, in Los Angeles, California
The then 30-year-old American musical recording artist and actress sported a black-and-white Jean Paul Gaultier 2015 Couture Fall outfit consisting of an embroidered top and a high waist velvet embroidered skirt.
Janelle Monae wears a black-and-white Jean Paul Gaultier ensemble on the red carpet of the Grammys
She accessorized with a fur detailed Emm Kuo clutch, a stripe-inspired pillbox hat, Pasquale Bruni earrings, and rings by Carrera y Carrera and Levian.
However, the highlight of her ensemble was a pair of attention-grabbing ankle boots.
Janelle Monae shows off her Emm Kuo clutch and Carrera y Carrera and Levian rings at the Grammys
Her fringed Christian Louboutin “Ottocarl” pointed-toe ankle boots are detailed with a cutout vamp and trimmed with fringe.
Christian Louboutin Fringed ‘Ottocarl’ Suede Booties, $1,345
Credit: WENN / Apega / Adriana M. Barraza / Christian Louboutin Twitter / Avalon / Instar