Janelle Monae On How Aretha Franklin's Musicianship Inspired Her: 'She Is the Blueprint'


In the wake Aretha Franklin’s death from pancreatic cancer at age 76 on Thursday (Aug. 16), singer Janelle Monae tells Billboard about how Franklin's own piano playing helped inspire her to pick up an instrument. As told to Gab Ginsberg.

I love Aretha Franklin. I had the opportunity to share a stage with her at the White House and perform for the Obamas, and I got a chance to hug her and tell her I loved her. That was amazing.

I feel like she is the blueprint — her musicianship, the way she plays a piano, which is not spoken about a lot, is inspiring to me. I play guitar, and it made me want to play an instrument because her.

Her voice is phenomenal. When you think soul, when you think ad-libbing and running and gut-wrenching singing and playing, she's the one who comes to mind. She was doing it at a young age and I feel like she's the musical DNA for so many people.

She will be missed and will forever live on — for the next generation and the next generation. Her music and her impact is that incredible. She's in our DNA.