American R&B and soul artist Janelle Monáe will be recognized by two campus organizations for her professional achievements and contributions to ongoing conversations on gender and race.
The Harvard College Women’s Center announced over the weekend that Monáe had been honored with its inaugural Award for Achievement in Arts and Media. The Harvard Black Men’s Forum also honored Monáe earlier in the month, naming her its 2014 Woman of the Year and selecting her as keynote speaker for the organization’s annual Celebration of Black Women Gala.
Monáe’s recognition at the College coincides with the announcement earlier this month that the singer will be the headlining act at this year’s Yardfest.
The Women’s Center, the Black Men’s Forum, the College Events Board, and the Harvard Concert Commission have been in discussions since early fall to coordinate Monáe’s planned visit to Harvard in April, according to the Assistant Dean of Student Life for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Emelyn A. dela Peña.
“Ms. Monáe is an ideal artist to cross the boundaries for all three events given her prominence as an artist, her focus on strong women, and her commentary on the African American community through her music,” dela Peña wrote in an email.
Vice President of the Black Men’s Forum Fadhal A. Moore ’15 agreed that Monáe was a great choice for each of the organizations to recognize.
“It was perfect timing,” Moore said, citing Monáe’s strong performance skills, social commentary, and increased media exposure following an album release last year and a collaboration with the band Fun on the Grammy award-winning song “We Are Young” as the basis for the groups’ decisions.