Like most artists, Janelle Monae prepares for a live show with a list she follows, including exercising and vocal warm-ups.
Unlike most artists, Monae says her list also includes the routine of putting her hair in dirt, washing and conditioning it _ and repeating the cycle. She also says that she eats "Asian cuisine with the bus driver."
It's hard to tell if she is joking, but if you know of Monae _ or her music _ it wouldn't be that surprising. The singer is not your typical artist: She's always seen in a tuxedo and rocks a pompadour. Her music is a blend of alternative, R&B and funk sounds and some of her songs are inspired by things like Muhammad Ali's fists, Walt Disney and Star Wars.
The singer's first full-length CD, the melodramatic 18-track epic "The ArchAndroid," follows a female android who discovers she is the chosen one and is trying to adapt to her new superpowers. The disc earned her two Grammy nominations and was a critical success. The Associated Press named it the No. 1 album of 2010.
Since its release, Monae has toured with Prince and Amy Winehouse. She'll open for Katy Perry in September and her co-headlining tour with rising star Bruno Mars kicks off Wednesday in New York.
The 25-year-old Monae says because of her musical style, she's able to go on the road with, pretty much, any musician.
"I can go anywhere that I want," Monae told the AP in a phone interview last week. "I could hang with (Vogue magazine editor-at-large) Andre Leon Talley, Karl Lagerfeld ... Big Boi (of OutKast), do shows with Prince, Stevie Wonder. I mean, that's pretty much my life. I'm not boxed in to any one thing."
The performer said she spent 80 percent of the last year on tour, but insists she's found some downtime to record new music.
"I'm very inspired right now," she said. "This (new) album will definitely change lives."
Monae and Mars are labelmates. They performed a medley together at this year's Grammy Awards, along with rapper B.o.B.
Monae says she's excited to share her music with Mars' fans, and says they can expect surprises and more onstage.
"Our shows are very high energy and you don't see that a lot," she said. "I would love to see it more _ you know when you have the artist crowd surfing and giving their all. And there are a lot of great shows out, but what we're doing is not being done."
Mesfin Fekadu can be reached at http://twitter.com/music_mesfin